Gov. Tim Walz has taken the unusual step of personally calling out Republican lawmakers on Twitter, amid efforts by Democrats to pass major changes to policing across the state in the wake of George Floyd's killing.
At the start of the Legislature's Special Session on Friday, Senate Republicans revealed their intentions for the session, and while they have said that some of the policies proposed by the DFL could pass – including a statewide ban on the use of chokeholds by police – they are opposed to several others.
This includes the DFL proposal that all officer-involved shooting prosecutions should be handled by the Minnesota Attorney General, currently Keith Ellison, amid criticism at past decisions made by county attorneys, among them Hennepin County's Mike Freeman.
They also strongly oppose DFL efforts to restore voting rights to those convicted of a crime but who aren't serving their sentence in custody. And efforts to eliminate binding arbitration – which has seen police officers restored to the force despite misconduct – are complicated because the GOP is proposing it be made the case for all public employees, not just police, which some DFL-leaning public employee unions oppose.
Another sticking point is the length of the Special Session, with DFL House Majority Leader Melissa Hortman suggesting that it should be a lengthy one to tackle what is a complex issue, while GOP Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka wants it wrapped up within a week.
It's against this backdrop that Walz started calling out Republicans on Twitter Friday, including posting a link to an Associated Press article detailing the GOP plans to limit policing change with the comment: "The world is watching."
He also encourages Minnesotans to "call your GOP State Senators" about policing, posting the Legislative phone numbers and email addresses of some Republican leaders.
These included Gazelka, Minnesota Senate Assistant Majority Leader Sen. Karin Housley – who in an aside has been critical of the Walz Administration's response to the COVID-19 crisis as it pertains to long-term care – and Senate Public Safety chair Sen. Warren Limmer.
Meanwhile, Republicans have stated their priority this Special Session was ending the Emergency Powers conferred to Gov. Tim Walz to handle the COVID-19 crisis, and while a vote to end the peacetime emergency passed the Senate on Friday, it failed in the House.