Senate Republicans Raise Concerns About Executive Authority, Civil Complaints Under Executive Orders

(ST. PAUL, MN) –  Senate Republicans sent a letter to Governor Tim Walz and Attorney General Keith Ellison raising concerns over the administration’s interpretation of peacetime emergency powers and the use of enforcement action.

The letter explains Senate Republicans take issue with Emergency Executive Order 20-33, which included language that made it a gross misdemeanor for a business owner, manager, or supervisor to require or encourage an employee to violate the executive order. Current law states that violation of an executive order is only a misdemeanor. The letter explains, “Ultimately, this interpretation of executive authority is alarming because there would be no limitation to the severity of the punishment that Governor Walz or any other Governor acting under emergency powers authority could impose without any legislative action. The emergency powers authority provided in Minnesota Statutes, chapter 12, is not a blank check for the imposition of criminal penalties.” 

Standing up for businesses that are facing prolonged closure under the executive orders, the Senate passed small business grants and permission for businesses to re-open if they followed guidelines from the Minnesota Department of Health. “We passed these measures because Minnesota’s economy – and the state budget that depends on its success – needs all the support we can offer,” the letter states. “However, based on the civil complaint issued by Attorney General Ellison on May 17, it appears the executive branch does not share our concerns about the plight of Minnesota businesses.” The recent action taken against Shadys, “sends a heavy-handed message to small businesses and workers who seek to safely reopen just like their big box competitors,” according to the letter. 

The letter concludes, “In light of this recent lawsuit and the looming June 12 special session, please understand that the previous restraint shown by the Senate to not exercise the authority granted under M.S. 12.31 to terminate the current peacetime emergency powers has become tenuous.”

Click here to read the letter.