Another Walz-appointed commissioner forced out by Senate GOP

The move came as the legislature began its fourth special session.
Author:
Publish date:

With the state legislature's fourth special session of 2020 getting underway, the Republican-controlled Senate has ousted another of the governor's appointees. 

On Friday, the first day of the new special session, the Senate held an official confirmation vote on Commerce Commissioner Steve Kelley — who has been in his position since last year. His confirmation was ultimately voted down, meaning he'll be forced out as head of the Minnesota Commerce Department.

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka says the move was a response to the agency's attempt to halt the replacement of Enbridge Energy's Line 3, an oil pipeline that runs through northern Minnesota.

The pipeline "met all the requirements of the PUC," Gazelka said in a tweet, "but rather than replace a very old pipe with a modern safe pipe, the Gov chose politics over safety."

But the vote earned fierce backlash from Democrats, who accused Gazelka of playing "petty partisan games" to hamper the Walz administration's ability to deal with the pandemic:

"Senate Republicans could‘ve used the special session to help us fight COVID-19," Walz said by tweet Friday. "Instead they chose to fight me, firing someone charged with protecting Minnesotans during this pandemic."

As the Star Tribune notes, Gazelka says the rejection of Kelley had been on his radar for some time, and that Republican lawmakers were concerned about his leadership even before the pandemic hit.

The paper also points out that the Senate's powers to deny the governor's commissioners are "rarely" used, with only two appointees being rejected between 2008 and 2019.

Kelley's ouster comes one month after the Senate removed Department of Labor and Industry Commissioner Nancy Leppink, a move that took Democrats by surprise.

Leppink's ouster came after GOP senators failed to end Walz's peacetime emergency powers, which have been the source of fierce and ongoing political strife between Walz and Republican lawmakers. 

Next Up

Screen Shot 2020-11-25 at 7.34.43 AM

Watch: Drunk squirrel in Minnesota captures the world's attention

The squirrel was immediately cut off after nearly tipping over.

Screen Shot 2020-11-25 at 7.15.09 PM

Small town gym refusing to close facing lawsuit from attorney general

The gym is facing a lawsuit and a temporary restraining order to halt their operations.

credit card, payment

Money Gal Coaching: Bouncing back after living your best life

Kelly Blodgett started Money Gal Coaching after paying down nearly $50K in debt in 18 months.

flickr-mall-of-america-mitchell-hirsch-march-2019

When do stores open on Black Friday this year?

Many major retailers will be open Black Friday, some for extended hours.

police tape, crime scene

Man found dead outside home near Cass Lake

The man was reportedly shot outside the property.

Minnesota_Welcome_Sign_-_Minnesota_Welcomes_You_-_Taylors_Falls_(28269804891)

Gov. Walz announces $1M in grants to boost Minnesota tourism

The money will be used for marketing efforts to attract people to Minnesota's hard-hit tourist spots.

coronavirus, ICU

Nov. 25 COVID-19 update: 72 deaths ties Minnesota's single-day high

A COVID-19 update will not be provided on Thanksgiving Day.

Texa-Tonka

Revival to open its fourth Twin Cities location

The fried chicken and smoked meat maestros are moving to St. Louis Park.

Duluth and Case Recreation Center

St. Paul to open two extra temporary shelters for homeless people

Mayor Melvin Carter announced the new shelters will be opened in the event of excess demand.

Related

gazelka paul

Report: Gazelka refuses to reveal total COVID cases in GOP outbreak

The senate majority leader is under fire for his handling of the situation.

Governor Tim Walz

Walz's emergency powers extended following state House vote

He'll now retain his powers through July 13.

Governor Tim Walz

Gov. Walz convenes special session to extend emergency powers

The Minnesota Legislature will convene for its fourth special session on Sept. 11.

flickr-mn-capitol-building-nov-2018

MN GOP calls on Walz to end emergency powers, work with legislature

They say they won't pass a new bonding bill until this happens.

gazelka paul

Unable to limit his COVID-19 powers, Senate GOP ousts Walz appointee

The state's Labor and Industry Commissioner is out of a job.

GOP senators

Another Minnesota GOP senator tests positive for COVID-19

Sen. Jerry Relph becomes the fourth senator to contract the disease.

State Capitol.

'Disgusting': DFL senators say GOP failed to disclose COVID-19 outbreak

Dems say "NO ONE in the DFL nor non-partisan staff was told."