Skip to main content Skip to office menu Skip to footer
Capital IconMinnesota Legislature

Legislative News and Views - Rep. Paul Torkelson (R)

Back to profile


Thursday, March 11, 2021

ST. PAUL – State Representative Paul Torkelson (R-Hanska) said Minnesota is nearing an unwanted anniversary, as it has been nearly one year since Governor Walz was given emergency powers.


Last year, the Legislature gave the governor this authority allowing him to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic more quickly, as much was unknown about the future impacts of the coronavirus. Since then, Torkelson said the governor has fully embraced the one-person rule power he was granted, and even though the emergency portion of the pandemic is over, his emergency powers remain fully intact.


“More of our population is receiving the vaccine, and I’d like to thank the local health workers and volunteers who are helping distribute these shots to the public,” Torkelson said. “But with the increased vaccinations we should also be seeing an ending of the Governor’s executive orders. Instead we are seeing House Democrats blocking every attempt to give the Legislature any say on the COVID-19 topic moving forward.”


The Governor’s Office recently announced that nearly 70% of senior citizens in Minnesota – the group most at risk from COVID-19 – have been vaccinated, which means vaccination eligibility has now expanded in the state and is another big step towards herd immunity.


Despite this Torkelson said the Governor continues to insist that we are still in the “emergency” phase of our response to the pandemic, even though variants of COVID-19 have been circulating in Minnesota for more than six weeks and cases have continued to drop.


Torkelson also noted that three times this week – 15 times overall – House Republicans voted to end the governor’s emergency powers.  House Democrats who previously voted to end the powers prior to last November’s election are no longer doing so, continuing to enable the Governor's unilateral authority and refusing to restore the legislature as a Constitutional co-equal branch of government.


Meanwhile, those who own or work in restaurants, movie theaters, bars, event centers, salons, entertainment venues continue to operate with significant restrictions.


“Other states have recognized that with vaccinations on the rise, that the process of returning to normal can begin,” Torkelson said. “Minnesota should be doing the same thing, and that can only happen if the emergency powers end.”