MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – On Friday afternoon, the Republican-controlled Minnesota Senate voted to remove Commerce Commissioner Steve Kelley.

Senators voted 31-33 not to confirm Kelley, after Gov. Tim Walz signed an executive order to extend the COVID-19 peacetime emergency for another 30 days.

“It’s irresponsible for Republicans to continue to target individuals over a political disagreement with the Governor,” said Minnesota House Speaker Melissa Hortman.

The last time Walz extended the peacetime emergency, the Senate similarly voted to oust Nancy Leppink, who at the time was the Commissioner of Labor and Industry. Walz called the move “political payback.”

Walz said he has heard the Senate possibly considering removing Commissioner of Employment and Economic Development Steve Grove and Jan Malcolm, who oversees the Minnesota Department of Health.

“They want to take out the very people who are protecting Minnesotans. I take that very seriously. Each one of these is a setback,” said Walz.

At this point, Walz, does not know who will replace Kelley.

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