Walz executive order protects COVID-19 aid from debt collectors

The action drew comment from GOP lawmakers, who have called for an end to Walz's emergency powers.
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Gov. Tim Walz issued an executive order Monday exempting COVID-19 relief funds from garnishment.

Executive Order 20-50 prevents emergency aid from federal, state, tribal or local governments from being intercepted by third-party debt collectors during Minnesota’s peacetime emergency.

This includes the recovery rebates from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES), which granted $1,200 to eligible individuals, $2,400 to eligible couples and $500 for eligible dependents.

“These government emergency support funds should go toward their intended purpose – ensuring the health and safety of Minnesotans by allowing them to afford their lives during the COVID-19 pandemic," Walz said.

"These support funds should not be intercepted by third parties or immediately garnished for consumer debt incurred before the COVID-19 pandemic."

The order also notes the federal government took similar action in March by suspending wage garnishment for defaulted federal student loans.

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Over the weekend, Republican lawmakers called on an end to the governor's peacetime emergency powers, with House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt (R-Crown), threatening to block a major capital investment bill if that doesn’t happen.

Walz's latest Executive Order led to criticism from Rep. Mary Franson (R-Alexandria), who said she proposed a similar bill regarding emergency aid garnishment to the Legislature in April.

“This situation underscores exactly why the governor’s emergency powers should come to an end,” she said.

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