Yesterday, we began a special legislative session which the governor was required to call to allow his martial law powers to continue over Minnesota’s health system and economy.
The Senate approved curtailing the governor’s martial law powers on a bipartisan vote of 39 yes – 29 no. That is the second time since the pandemic began that the Senate has determined the governor has gone too far with micro-management of our state’s economy.
In the House after a lengthy and heated debate the resolution restraining the governor went down on a strict party line vote of 61 yes – 73 no. Click here for the full floor footage. (I deliver a speech with around 3:07:30 remaining in the clip and Minority Leader Daudt brings it home with around 51 minutes left.)
I voted to bring governor’s martial law approach to managing a health care emergency back under control. It was disappointing that the House failed to join the Senate in forcing the governor to modify his heavy-handed approach in dealing with what we all clearly understand is a very serious health care problem.
Despite the setback we did make some small progress. This was the first time after 5 previous attempts that the majority party allowed House members to actually debate the issue on the House floor. Previous efforts were shut down on strict parliamentary procedure votes.
Despite some disagreement we did find common ground on several pieces of legislation that passed with strong bipartisan votes.
HF-5 Emergency Small Business Grant Program was sent over to the Senate on 129 yes - 5 no vote. HF-65 a technical tweak to the Vehicle and Driver’s License Registration System passed on a 127 yes – 7 no vote. HF-11 a Human Services Policy Bill moved forward on a 124 yes – 6 no vote.
A critical bill has yet to come forward for a vote. That bill directs the governor to immediately release the $841 billion of federal dollars to our counties, cities and townships no later than June 30, 2020.
These are preliminary numbers and subject to change. Aitkin County is expected to receive about $1,9 million, with an additional $79,000 distributed to the cities and larger townships within Aitkin County. Crow Wing County would receive about $7.8 million, with an additional $180,000 distributed to the cities and larger townships.
We take up bills again on Monday. I and my colleagues will continue to press the governor to release the $841 billion in federal funding that he is withholding from local units of government.