Gov. Tim Walz has announced the extension of Minnesota's peacetime emergency by a further 30 days as the state commences the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The emergency status was renewed as the Minnesota Legislature reconvenes for a special session, and despite Republican opposition to Walz's use of emergency powers prior to the election, the GOP-led Senate didn't hold a vote to overturn it last month.
But the Senate GOP did hold a vote Monday, which passed 40-25, though it will ultimately not be enough to stop the governor's extension of the peacetime emergency as it is unlikely to pass the DFL-led House.
The Legislature will mainly be discussing the passage of a COVID-19 relief bill for businesses and workers impacted by the virus and the governor's latest shutdown on bars, restaurants, gyms, and entertainment venues, which came as the virus spiked to record levels across the state in November.
As he announced the peacetime emergency extension, Walz said there is "hope on the horizon" as the state received its first shipment of Pfizer's COVID vaccine Monday.
"But we need to remain vigilant until we put the threat of COVID-19 behind us,” he added. “The Peacetime Emergency gives us the tools to keep Minnesotans healthy and deliver the vaccine in a way that is quick, equitable, and safe.”
Among the deals expected to be agreed by the Legislature include a $200 million-plus package to help COVID-hit businesses, and a 13-week extension to unemployment benefits.