The Minnesota legislature adjourned from a special session shortly before 7 a.m. Saturday with much work left on the table. The breakdown started when House Democrats, at the insistence of the governor, reneged on a deal that had been negotiated by the four caucuses.
This could have been a simple and productive session and it is a shame it did not turn out that way. The failure to release $841 million in federal CARES Act funding to local government hurts people that already have been devastated by the governor’s unilateral decisions that have crippled our economy.
The Senate did approve a clean CARES Act bill 62-4 last Tuesday but, instead of passing that language and sending the relief dollars on their way, House Democrats and the governor tried to use the occasion to tack on extra funding for their projects, breaking the deal that had been agreed upon by House and Senate Republicans and Democrats.
I have served in the Minnesota House for eight years. One of my greatest frustrations is the political games that are played, but I cannot recall anything as bad as what has gone on here, where the governor’s meddling in a legislative agreement has delayed and/or jeopardized $841 million in federal relief our local governments desperately need to help offset financial issues caused by the COVID-19 outbreak – and the governor’s shutdown.
Their actions were unnecessary and failed Minnesotans.
Now, the question is where we go from here. Without legislative approval of a CARES Act bill, the governor has solo discretion on where the money will go. He will retain his emergency powers, and Minnesotans will continue to suffer under an authoritarian, one-man ruler.
Will a special session take place again later this month to address that issue and others that were unresolved in the special session? Will the governor call another special session in mid-July to extend his emergency powers by yet another 30 days, pushing us to five months as subjects of his power grab?
Minnesotans deserve better. The governor needs to get out of the way so local units of government can receive their funding and citizens can get out from under his authoritarian rule. His emergency powers need to end but, unfortunately, Democrats in the House majority so far have been unwilling to do so.