By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota Republicans say now is the time to open up the state, despite rising numbers of COVID-19 cases.

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka and House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt unveiled a one-page contract Monday, which includes:

  • Allowing kids back in school.
  • Allowing all school sports and activities to resume.
  • Allowing local communities to decide bar and restaurant rules.
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“We think it’s absolutely essential that kids are in school,” Gazelka said.

He says voters are so angry over Gov. Tim Walz’s COVID restrictions that he expects voters will elect Republican majorities in both the Minnesota House and Senate in two weeks.

“We trust our parents and our school boards, we trust our city councils and our local communities to keep our citizens and our kids safe,” Daudt said.

As Republicans made their announcement, Walz was touring southern Minnesota farms to announce federal COVID aid for local farmers. He seemed genuinely frustrated by the announcement.

“Maybe they found the cure for COVID while I was gone down here,” Walz said.

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The governor says Minnesota is fairing better than neighboring states, but warns that could change.

“I don’t want to see a set up like we did in Wisconsin. A hospital set up in the state fair grounds,” Walz said.

Walz’s spokesperson, Teddy Tschann, released this statement Monday evening:

Governor Walz ​will work with anyone to fight the virus, including Republicans in the state legislature. But as COVID-19 deaths continue to climb, he encourages them to take the pandemic seriously. A one-page plan to abandon all safety precautions is not a serious strategy to slow the spread or rebuild the economy.

Democrats are also looking hard at control of the legislature this election, and they feel pretty good about their 16-seat majority in the House. They also think the Republicans’ three-seat Majority in the Senate is vulnerable, and they believe they can flip it and take control.

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All of Minnesota’s 201 state legislators are up for election in two weeks.

Esme Murphy