Minnesota Senate Republicans posted a video that apparently shows Democrats intentionally walking away from a budget deal at the behest of Gov. Tim Walz because they didn’t get a concession on mandatory COVID vaccines for poll workers, among other things.
Republicans accuse Gov. Walz of colluding with Democrat legislators to intentionally stall the legislative session, which ended Sunday night. The video shows Democrats talking about Walz’s agenda on microphones they didn’t know were live. Alpha News also spoke to a Republican legislator on background who suggested that in order to even have a chance at advancing conservative agendas, Democrats wanted radical new voting rules as a concession.
The video captures state Rep. Michael Nelson, a Democrat, telling state Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer, a Republican, that the governor’s office instructed him to “hold off on” major spending agreements over disagreements on “Zuckerbucks and vaccines.”
Zuckerbucks refers to election offices’ acceptance of outside money — named “Zuckerbucks” after the Facebook CEO sent millions of dollars to such offices around the United States during the 2020 presidential election.
The latter of these items refers to a rule that would require all election judges to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The sad truth about the end of session: Gov. Walz demanded his party walk away from the table.
— Minnesota Senate Republicans (@mnsrc) May 23, 2022
Some feel that the Democrats’ push to make poll workers prove COVID vaccination status is a way to limit the number of conservatives serving as election judges.
Debate over the vaccination of poll workers has cropped up in various locales around the United States. In November 2021, for example, the city of Madison, Wisconsin, initially moved to require COVID vaccination for poll workers — but officials rescinded the idea and instead required unvaccinated poll workers to obtain a negative test result.
Around that time, former lieutenant governor of Wisconsin Rebecca Kleefisch said mandatory vaccination would prevent more Republicans from supervising the polls, with the subtext that they are less likely to have been vaccinated against COVID than Democrats.
Upon the end of Minnesota’s regular legislative session without bipartisan spending agreements, it’s been suggested that Gov. Walz might call a special session to resolve outstanding differences. The governor had been previously unwilling to call for a special session, but he has since stated that it may be beneficial for legislators to be told that “it’s not acceptable to just go home.”
Although Democrats are vowing to cross the finish line if they get a little more time, the feeling isn’t mutual among Republicans.
“We’ve had members from the Senate working darn near around the clock for a week, what is one or two more days going to do?” Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller said. “We are not interested in a special session.”
The government will not shut down as a result of the failure to pass a spending agreement, however, as state operations are fully funded until the summer of 2023. Current negations are not critical to the functioning of the state, instead are mostly political.