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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — With one week left in Gov. Tim Walz’s stay-at-home order, some Republicans are trying to speed up the re-opening process.

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The Republican-controlled Senate passed a bill Monday that would allow Minnesota businesses, including restaurants, a lot more freedom over when and how they reopen.

The frustrations over the existing order are spilling over, with several Republican Senators questioned the fairness of it. For instance, Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer highlighted the fact that “big box” stores remain open, while a lot of small businesses remain closed.

“So what kind of baffles me here, members, is the double standard. I see that the ‘little box stores’ are being heavily restricted and having all kinds of measures that are in your bill here that we not applied to the ‘big box’ stores,” Kiffmeyer said.

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But opponents, like Democratic Sen. Bobby Joe Champion, warn that the governor’s existing path of slowly reopening is the wise one; that frightening cautionary tales already exist in Minnesota.

“A number of different people have been infected, and those families and those workers are at risk,” Champion said.

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Also Monday at the Capitol there was frustration with the Minnesota Department of Health’s modeling on the COVID-19 crisis after new figures showed a higher number of deaths under one scenario.

Republicans, including Sen. Michelle Benson, accused MDH and the governor of not being transparent.

“What’s a little confusing for me is which model is the governor telling us so that we can understand and participate and walk side by side in making good decisions,” Benson said.

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MDH insisted they will be out with new modeling this week that will contain new case projections, as well as new projections for deaths, and when COVID-19 should peak in Minnesota. Republicans say that kind of basic information is long overdue.

While the Senate passed the measure for a quicker reopening of the state’s economy, it is not likely to go far in the House. Right now, it’s stalled in a House committee.

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Esme Murphy