Gov. Tim Walz plans to extend his emergency powers for another 30 days on Monday, making it the 15th month in a row that the peacetime emergency has been extended.
A Minnesota statute says that a governor who declares a peacetime emergency may have emergency powers for only five days, after which he must ask his Executive Council to extend his powers for an additional 30 days.
Walz has requested that his powers be extended 15 times since first declaring the peacetime emergency in March of 2020, and thus has had emergency powers for over 450 days.
“There is simply no reason for Gov. Walz to continue his one-man rule,” Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake, said in a statement. “Minnesotans deserve better, and it is time to restore the role of the people, stop the remaining mandates and executive orders, and let families get on with planning their lives without worrying about what rules could drop from on high.”
House Republicans have attempted to force a vote on the governor’s emergency powers 19 times, and the Senate has voted to end emergency powers eight times, all failed attempts.
Walz has had the power to shut down churches, schools, and small businesses under the peacetime emergency, as well as the power to implement a statewide mask mandate, which was in effect from July until May.
A statement from Action 4 Liberty said that “Walz has done things that should be immediate grounds for impeachment,” but the House and Senate have allowed him to maintain his powers “indefinitely.”
Last fall, a group of Minnesota lawmakers and business owners filed a lawsuit against Walz, claiming he does not have the authority to “suspend the constitutional rights of Minnesotans.”
Action 4 Liberty also argued that the governor has violated a state clause on the distribution of the powers of government. Article Three of the Minnesota Constitution says that no single chamber can exercise the powers of any of the other chambers.
Republicans have introduced legislation that would take away the governor’s ability to unilaterally declare an emergency ever again.
Rep. Erik Mortensen, R-Shakopee, is the leading author of the Never Again bill, a bill that would strip the governor of peacetime emergency powers, prevent his orders from being treated as law, and fine or imprison the governor for violating the law.
Rep. Barb Haley, R-Red Wing, and Sen. Jeff Howe, R-Rockville, partnered to write a bill that would limit the governor’s powers while still granting him authority over COVID-19 tests and vaccines.
Many legislators have been frustrated with the governor, who has “intentionally excluded” the Legislature from the COVID-19 statewide response, House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, said during a press conference last week.
Howe noted that he has “never been treated in such a condescending manner” as when he was working with Walz this session.
A group of Minnesotans plans to rally together on Monday in support of the Never Again bill, demanding that the Senate pass the bill.
“The voice of the people has been silenced and ignored since last year,” an event description says, which has been promoted by Mortensen and Action 4 Liberty.
The rally will begin outside the Senate offices at 10:30 a.m. Monday and move to the Capitol as the special session begins.