Senate Passes Bills for COVID funds, Police Accountability; Adjourns After No Cooperation From House

The Senate adjourned from the special session early this morning. A week of negotiations on how best to spend federal CARES dollars, assemble a bonding bill, and pass police accountability ultimately broke down over stalemates from the House and the Governor.

“Broken agreements and partisan tactics brought this special session to an anti-climactic close,” said Senator Bruce Anderson (R-Buffalo). “With high hopes for compromise and bipartisan reform, I am disappointed that our attempt to work across the aisle was met with political games. We are hoping that this step away will make room to repair trust and redirect focus once again to the priorities of the people of Minnesota.”

Before making the motion to adjourn, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-East Gull Lake) addressed the Senate, saying, “I’m frustrated this morning because I thought we were actually going to do some things together. We had the opportunity to do good things for the state with the federal COVID funds, pass a bonding bill, and reform police accountability. I actually thought we could get something done, but the behind the scenes arm-twisting from the Governor has ended any hope of working together right now.”

The special session was primarily called because Governor Walz extended his emergency powers. “We voted to end the emergency powers” said Gazelka, “because one man can’t possibly be making the best decisions for the entire state.”

During the special session, the CARES act bill was agreed upon and passed by the Senate, however, the House amended millions of dollars of new spending to the bill, effectively tanking it for the session. The Senate’s police accountability bills included many agreed-upon ideas like banning chokeholds and requiring officers to intervene if they see excessive force, but the House added on extreme provisions like felon voting and dismantling police departments. The state’s constitution stipulates a bonding bill must originate in the House, but a bonding bill was not brought up for a vote in the House before the Senate adjourned.