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House Democrats block Rep. Green bill that add oversight to a governor's emergency powers

Friday, April 16, 2021

 

ST. PAUL – A bill Rep. Steve Green, R-Fosston, authored allowing Minnesotans to decide whether a governor’s emergency powers warrant greater oversight and accountability was blocked by House Democrats on Wednesday from becoming available for a vote of the full body.

Specifically, upon enactment of Green’s bill (H.F. 101), ballots for the 2022 general election would pose the question: “Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to limit the governor's emergency declaration to seven days prior to legislative approval?” 

Green said current Minnesota statute allows the governor to maintain his executive order so long as the Legislature does not take action to end it. He indicated the public would be better served by taking the opposite approach, where legislative approval is required for a governor to extend emergency powers beyond an initial seven-day window. If the Legislature weren’t in session at the time a governor invoked a peacetime emergency, he could call a special session for his executive powers to be extended for up to 30 days at a time, according to Green’s bill.

“While the framers of our Constitution undoubtedly had good intent in providing a governor the latitude to issue urgent orders during times of emergency, the complete and total abuse Gov. Walz has exhibited by invoking his unilateral mandates for more than a full calendar year must be checked,” Green said. “There is no emergency taking place today, yet the governor has given zero indication is willing to cede his extraordinary powers anytime soon. His open-ended ability to issue mandates that have the effect of law is crippling our representative system of government, subjecting the citizens of our state to the rule of one person with no end in sight.” 

Green said the chances of voters having a say in this matter diminished significantly when Democrats in the House Rules Committee took up his for brief discussion Wednesday and, in a party-line vote, stopped it from reaching the House floor with no further action imminent. Green said he was not surprised by the majority’s move to vote down his measure after requests for a hearing on the bill ere not granted. The legislation only was brought before the committee Wednesday after Green took procedural action which forced it on the agenda.

“We’re at the point now 13 months into the governor’s unilateral rule, exhausting every means possible to restore balance at the Capitol and allow 201 legislators to participate in the decision-making process instead of one person continue calling all the shots,” Green said. “Unfortunately, House Democrats have blocked nearly 20 attempts by Republicans on the House floor to end the governor’s powers and now they won’t even let citizens have a say in the matter. It’s concerning for the majority to disregard the citizens of our state and it’s a dereliction of their duty as elected officials to refuse to participate in making decisions that have significant consequences for all the people of our state.”

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