Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz extends state of emergency for coronavirus response

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Gov. Tim Walz said Wednesday that he plans to extend his use of emergency powers to respond to the corona­virus pandemic, triggering yet another special session of the Minnesota Legislature.

The DFL governor also held out hope for a massive public works financing bill that has been bottled up since last spring, partly because of GOP opposition to the peacetime state of emergency that began in March.

The announcement of another 30-day extension will bring about the fifth special session of the Legislature since the regular session adjourned in late May. Lawmakers return Monday to St. Paul.

The COVID-19 virus is unpredictable, and as we have seen over the past few weeks, it continues to devastate our communities,” Walz said in a statement. It’s imperative that we have the tools necessary to respond to this public health emergency and protect the health and well-being of each and every Minnesotan. This emergency is not over.”

The announcement came as the state recently surpassed 100,000 confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic.

The DFL governor’s use of executive power, which covers everything from temporary regulatory relief for businesses to the statewide mask mandate, has been the subject of ongoing political and legal fights. Senate Republicans, who argue legislators should have a bigger say in the response, have passed multiple bills seeking to end the emergency. But both chambers would need to act to overrule the governor, and the DFL-led House supports the governor’s approach.

Legislators have sought but failed to reach accord on a number of outstanding issues in recent special sessions, including a public infrastructure borrowing package and a supplemental budget. On Wednesday, the governor said talks are continuing on a bonding bill and he remains “hopeful” that a deal can be reached by Monday.