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Minnesota Legislature

After lengthy debate, House doesn't take up emergency powers resolution

A resolution that would have stripped Gov. Tim Walz of his emergency powers for dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic did not come to a vote on the House Floor Tuesday evening.

After almost four hours of debate in which 27 legislators spoke, the House chose not to suspend the rules and take a vote on House Concurrent Resolution 1, voting against the motion 70-63.

A day after the Senate approved a similar resolution 36-31, the House may not have technically taken up its own resolution, but the body nevertheless debated whether the state’s response to the pandemic has been a success or a failure.

House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt makes closing comments on his motion to suspend the House Rules so a resolution to end the governor’s emergency powers could be acted upon during special session floor session July 14. Photo by Paul Battaglia

Republicans who spoke were divided over whether the state’s death rates were low enough to justify calling the emergency over or high enough that they prove the governor’s policies a failure. Several argued that those policies have been too “one-size-fits-all” and should be shaped more by region. Others said that the debate was centered in the division of powers between the executive and legislative branches.

“This has gone on too long,” said House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt (R-Crown). “The governor has not provided adequate information on the data he is using to make his decisions. And now we are facing more shutdowns, mask mandates and the prospect that our kids may not be back in school.”

But several DFLers argued that too little is yet known about the disease in terms of its long-term effects for those who contract it, while others cited the recent rise in diagnoses in Minnesota and elsewhere.

“We have no idea whether we are in the management phase or the emergency phase of this disease,” said House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler (DFL-Golden Valley). “We have to recognize the limits of our knowledge. It’s reasonable to ask for explanations on the governor’s decisions. But it would be irresponsible and dangerous to take away his emergency powers.”

Daudt said he has been in ongoing discussions with the governor’s office on crafting legislation that would alter the scope of the governor’s emergency powers.

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