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

(ST. PAUL, MN) –  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. 

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. 

“I think it’s best if we get away from this place while we keep working on the things left undone,” Gazelka concluded. “We are not walking away from the table, but we do need to reset the table so we can move forward. I do believe we will have another special session, but not until all the parties can agree.”