Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Greetings to you all.
I hope you are enjoying this long stretch of warm, northern Minnesota summer. Normally, I would not have much to report as our regular legislative session concluded on May 19th.
But the year 2020 is anything but normal. The Covid-19 pandemic and civil unrest in the Twin Cities has required all of us to stay engaged in response to these unfolding situations.
As you know, Governor Walz declared a peacetime emergency back in March of this year. While Minnesota law does not allow for such an emergency to be declared in response to a public health crisis, the governor declared the emergency under the “natural disaster” clause. In accordance with Minnesota law, he can renew those emergency powers every 30 days unless both legislative bodies (Senate and House) deny that renewal.
For the fourth time since March, the governor has once again extended his emergency powers, so the legislature is required to be back in special session this week in order to respond to that declaration. Session began Monday and is anticipated to run at least a week, with negotiations taking place between the House and Senate on a handful of other pressing issues like bonding, tax cuts, police reform, and supplemental budget spending.
On Monday, the Senate passed a motion to deny the Governor’s renewal of emergency powers. And, on Tuesday, House Republicans made a motion to suspend the rules to enable a vote on a resolution that would, likewise, end the state’s peacetime emergency and return to regular legislative order. You can view Minority Leader Kurt Daudt’s opening comments during the House proceedings here: https://bit.ly/32rkOIC
As I have done numerous times, I voted in support of ending the peacetime emergency. Unfortunately, after four hours of floor debate, the House Democrat majority refused to put up the votes needed to even take a vote on the issue. I was pleased to see that two of our northeastern Minnesota representatives, Representative Sandstede and Representative Lislegard, were among the four Democrats that voted with Republicans to take up the vote.
I will continue to push for more local control in decision making as Minnesota manages this health crisis.
Just this week, I joined my Republican colleagues in a letter to Governor Walz asking for school districts to have a voice in decisions about how they will conduct classes this fall.
Ending the peacetime emergency does not mean ending the state’s response to COVID-19. Republicans do not deny that COVID-19 remains a public health threat, we simply believe that after 120 days, the time for unilateral, top-down control is over and for Minnesotans to have a voice through their representatives.
As I mentioned above, several other pressing issues will be addressed in this special session and it is my expectation that a bonding bill will be one of them. I am pleased to see that many (but not all) of the local projects I authored are still in play and I am working to see them through and to advocate for those not yet being considered.
If you haven’t already, please complete the 2020 census! The census is important for several reasons including helping determine our level of representation in St. Paul and Washington D.C.
Visit www.my2020census.gov or call 844-330-2020 to complete the census or to learn more.
During an election year – like 2020 – there is a 60-day post-session rule that prohibits legislators (even though I am not seeking re-election) from mailing newsletters to constituents from 60 days post-session until November at the earliest. You can stay updated, of course, on the latest information by checking out my official Facebook page. I will post a special session recap on that page.
Although I won’t be sending out newsletters for the foreseeable future, you can still call or email my office if you need anything. You can reach my via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on the phone at 651-296-4936.
Wishing you all a healthy, relaxing, and rejuvenating summer,