Gov. Tim Walz extends COVID-19 peacetime emergency

It comes as the Minnesota Legislature starts its 3rd Special Session.
Governor Tim Walz

Gov. Tim Walz has extended the state's peacetime emergency in response to COVID-19 by another 30 days.

The governor extended the emergency as the Minnesota Legislature convened for a third Special Session, with Walz saying he was doing so based on the advice of "public health experts, senior advocates, labor leaders, doctors, hospitals, and long-term care providers."

The GOP-led Senate then passed a vote to end the peacetime emergency, but this will fail in the DFL-controlled house, meaning another Special Session will likely be convened at the end of the current peacetime emergency in a month's time.

Walz defended the extension amid Republican opposition, pointing to the fact that President Trump's COVID-19 national emergency remains in place, while states of emergency are in effect in all 50 states.

Keeping the emergency in place, he says, protects Minnesotans against "evictions and wage garnishment," gives Walz control over the level of restrictions and reopenings amid the ongoing outbreak, keeps the face mask mandate in place, and allows his administration to procure personal protective equipment (PPE) for those who need it without having to go through the Legislature.

He also says that ending the emergency would "jeopardize over $50 million each month in federal funding."

The announcement comes on the same day that Minnesota registered its first double digit deaths from COVID-19 since July 2.

"The COVID-19 pandemic continues to present an unprecedented and rapidly evolving challenge to our state. These executive orders helped us build hospital capacity, secure critical care and personal protective equipment for healthcare providers and launch an aggressive testing strategy,” said Governor Tim Walz. 

"While these actions have slowed the spread of the virus and saved lives, it is important for us to assess the continued need for existing executive orders and rescind executive orders that are no longer necessary."

MinnPost reports that it's unlikely that the latest Special Session will lead to an agreement on the much-debated infrastructure bonding bill, not least because the state is looking to sell $1.2 billion in bonds that means government finances can't be changed till it strikes a deal.

There is likely however to be agreement on the allocation of $30 million in federal CARES Act funding to help disability day services in Minnesota.

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