MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota Legislature was in special session Thursday, and for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic started, Republicans did not hold a vote on ending the Gov. Tim Walz’s emergency powers.

“The Governor’s emergency powers are the backbone of the state’s tools needed to respond to this rapidly evolving virus quickly and decisively in order to safeguard the health and wellbeing of each and every Minnesotan,” Senate DFL Leader Susan Kent said. “Now, it is up to all of us to follow public health and safety guidelines and keep each other safe. Wear a mask, stay socially distanced, stay home, and encourage others to do the same.”

At a meeting with the governor’s executive council, Walz warned that the COVID-19 situation is dire and will test Minnesota like nothing has ever tested the state in its history.

Republicans say they do agree with the governor that the situation is serious, but they still don’t agree with his use of the powers.

House Democrats called on Republicans to unify behind Walz, who this week announced new COVID restrictions for bars and restaurants, as well as wedding and funeral receptions and private gatherings, including Thanksgiving dinners.

Republicans are criticizing those new guidelines and proposed a bill restricting the governor’s emergency powers. The bill would allow the legislature to overturn emergency orders after 30 days.

As for what Republicans say they would do if Walz’s emergency powers were removed, House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt says he would have sealed off nursing homes earlier, would allow cooperation with the legislature and, despite the fact many school districts are struggling, he would open up schools.

As expected, that bill which would have limited Walz’s powers was voted down. There is no question, with the COVID crisis breaking records here on almost a daily basis, Republicans have taken a step back on their criticisms. It was less than three weeks ago Republican leaders announced their desire to open up most of the state.

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Esme Murphy

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