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Walz calls lawmakers back for fifth special session, intends to extend COVID emergency powers

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Just over three weeks before Election Day, the Legislature will be back in special session Monday.

Gov. Tim Walz on Wednesday issued a proclamation calling the House and Senate back to St. Paul at noon, Oct. 12, and noted he intends to extend his peacetime emergency powers by another 30 days to help the state "continue to quickly and effectively respond to the COVID-19 pandemic."

It will be the fifth special session of 2020 and 13th special session since 2010.

“The COVID-19 virus is unpredictable, and as we have seen over the past few weeks, it continues to devastate our communities,” Walz said in a statement. “It’s imperative that we have the tools necessary to respond to this public health emergency and protect the health and wellbeing of each and every Minnesotan. This emergency is not over.”

The first four special sessions on 2020 have resulted in mixed success:

  • in September the House voted for the fourth straight month against bringing up a concurrent resolution that would end Walz’s peacetime emergency powers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • a law to provide economic relief to disability service providers was passed in August;
  • a police reform and accountability package was one of two laws passed in the July gathering; and
  • the June special session ended without agreement on a quartet of bills that included overhauling public safety and police accountability and allocating federal coronavirus funds to local units of government.

Yet to be passed in 2020 is a capital investment bill, traditionally the focus on even-year sessions. Will this time be a charm? Will a supplemental spending bill get passed? How about tax changes?

House DFLers tried unsuccessfully to pass a $1.8 billion capital investment/tax cuts package in July after no action was taken on a bonding bill in June. A $2 billion package was also rejected in May.

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