Publish date:

Unable to stop his COVID-19 emergency, Senate GOP ousts commissioner appointed by Walz

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

Senate Republicans ousted the state's Labor and Industry Commissioner in a rebuke to Gov. Tim Walz just hours after failing to overturn his peacetime emergency.

Nancy Leppink was appointed the DLI commissioner by Walz shortly after he took office in 2019, but the Senate had yet to officially confirm her position.

Taking Democrats by surprise Wednesday afternoon, the GOP-controlled Senate held Leppink's confirmation hearing, and voted 34-32 not to confirm her, meaning she's out of a job.

Senate GOP leader Paul Gazelka said he had been dissatisfied with Leppink's performance for many months, and said he had told Gov. Walz in February that she was "not working out," listing a series of complaints about her during Wednesday's Special Session.

But the move sparked fury from Democrats who accused of obstructing the state's response to COVID-19, of which Leppink's department has played a vital role in preparing businesses for the many changes that have resulted from the pandemic.

DFL Senate Minority Leader Susan Kent accused Gazelka of setting an "ambush" by not giving advance notice of the confirmation hearing, and said the timing of it was "cruel and incredibly irresponsible during a public health crisis."

Others unhappy by the decision is Education Commissioner Mary Ricker, who praised Leppink's work on the state's efforts to reopen schools amid the pandemic.

Gov. Walz was also taken aback, saying Leppink was "caught in the middle of a petty political move" that he claims "puts Minnesotans in danger," and went on to accuse the GOP of not taking COVID-19 seriously.

Walz had earlier extended the state's COVID-19 peacetime emergency by 30 days, with the virus still prevalent in the state. The Senate voted to end the emergency, but the measure would not get past the DFL-controlled House.

Republicans in the Legislature have become increasingly unhappy with Gov. Walz's emergency powers, saying the state's response to COVID-19 should go through the Legislature, but Walz says it is still required so that the state can react quickly, access federal emergency funding, and provide protection to those vulnerable to the effects of the pandemic.

Next Up

dave chappelle

Dave Chappelle to perform at Target Center in Minneapolis

The comedian is screen his new documentary at part of the 10-city tour.

Screen Shot 2021-10-25 at 7.06.08 AM

U.S. soccer hero Megan Rapinoe signs her mural at St. Paul bar

Rapinoe paid a visit to The Black Hart ahead of a match at Allianz Field Tuesday.

hospital, emergency room

1 dead after married couple crash UTV in southern Minnesota

The crash happened just after 11 p.m. Saturday.

hmong college prep academy

St. Paul school superintendent offers to quit after $4.3M lost in hedge fund

The Office of the State Auditor recently released its investigative report on the school.

ambulance

2 women die from injuries suffered in October 19 Hopkins crash

Both victims died at Hennepin Healthcare on Oct. 21.

Dean Evason

Wild fall flat against Predators, lose first game of season

The Wild couldn't stay out of the penalty box in a 5-2 loss.

Screen Shot 2021-10-24 at 10.11.36 AM

Search for Wisconsin woman whose vehicle was found near Hinckley

Ashley L. Miller, 33, was reported missing on Sep. 24 after her vehicle was found without her in it.

Dak Prescott

Report: Dak Prescott will be 'ready to go' for matchup with Vikings

The Dallas quarterback is expected to be available for next Sunday's showdown.

Eddie Rosario

Where Eddie Rosario's championship series heroics rank since 2000

The former Twin put together an all-timer to help the Braves reach the World Series.

plane, Piper PA-32

2 dead after plane crashes near residence in rural Wisconsin

The aircraft also struck the house during the crash.

Screen Shot 2021-10-23 at 9.38.43 PM

1 dead after van crashes and lands on Highway 100 in Brooklyn Center

Northbound Highway 100 was shut down following the crash Saturday night.

Related

gazelka paul

Another Walz-appointed commissioner forced out by Senate GOP

The move came as the legislature began its fourth special session.

paul gazelka

Gazelka's 'I've always said COVID-19 is serious' tweet raises eyebrows

The Senate Majority Leader has attracted plenty of attention for a Thursday tweet.

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.

gazelka paul

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka has COVID-19

Gazelka has had symptoms since last Monday.

Governor Tim Walz

Gov. Walz calls out GOP lawmakers amid efforts to limit police changes

The governor took the unusual step of encouraging Minnesotans to call GOP senators.

MPCA - Laura BIshop

Head of Pollution Control Agency resigns as GOP senators prepare her ouster

Walz accused the senators, who have removed two of his commissioners before, of playing partisan games.