Legislative Republicans Blast Governor’s Response to Emergency Powers Bill

Republican leaders yesterday proposed legislation that would act as an off-ramp to end Governor Walz’s emergency powers that have been in effect for the past 15 months. The bill would allow the Governor to continue having oversight of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, as well as testing and vaccination efforts, but would put an end to other outstanding emergency powers and orders.

In response to the proposed legislation, a spokesman for the Governor claimed that this was “not a serious plan,” and made a series of false claims about the bill that are specifically addressed in the compromise proposal. 

Senator Jeff Howe (R-Rockville) and Representative Barb Haley (R-Red Wing) released the following statements in response:

“I find it extremely disingenuous for the Governor to claim our proposed plan isn’t ‘serious’—Governor Walz has written off every single one of our suggestions, but he hasn’t offered a single alternative option, and he has shown he is completely unwilling to work with us if it means he has to cede even an ounce of his emergency powers,” said Sen. Howe. “While I’m not surprised, I am extremely disappointed that not a single ounce of constructive criticism was offered in the Governor’s response statement. We have met every single one of the Governor’s concerns with viable solutions, yet he is still unwilling to give up his powers. The current arrangement is the preference of tyrants. The fact is that the emergency is over, and Governor Walz needs to accept that.”

“We have come to the table for months offering reasonable solutions to end the peacetime emergency while giving the governor tools to make sure Minnesota can conclude our response to the pandemic,” stated Rep. Haley. “Each time, the Governor has offered no constructive feedback or alternatives. He refuses to meaningfully engage with the legislature, and worse — sends his staff out to lie about our proposal rather than continue meeting to find agreement. The emergency is over, but the governor continues to cling to powers he doesn’t need.” 

If enacted, this bill serves solely as a response to the COVID-19 Executive Orders and does not extend into any potential future emergency circumstances. Key points in the bill include:

  • No longer allowing Chapter 12 to apply to the COVID-19 outbreak
  • Allows a “public health disaster” to be declared to maintain federal benefits and funding
  • Ensures the maintenance of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Allows the Commissioner of Health and the Governor to manage vaccine and testing distribution
  • Ends the Peacetime Emergency Orders