The state Senate advanced a measure Monday that would give Minnesota lawmakers explicit authority to decide how to spend roughly $2 billion from the federal government to stop the spread of COVID-19.
By a 42-25 tally, the Republican-led effort earned some DFL votes, including the former Senate DFL leader, Sen. Tom Bakk of Cook.
The move is a public signal to Gov. Tim Walz that the peacetime emergency powers he has claimed should not be viewed as permanent, and that the Legislature will retain its traditional power of the purse.
Senate Finance Committee Chair Julie Rosen, R-Vernon Center, said the legislation would give Minnesotans a voice in deciding how the federal aid should be spent. Currently, a legislative advisory committee would give input to Minnesota Management and Budget, which will otherwise administer the funds.
“The legislature is the body that is equipped to manage and allocate the money that the federal government has appropriated,” Rosen said Monday. “MMB is not prepared for testimony and input from the general public.”
Senate Minority Leader Susan Kent, DFL-Woodbury, on Monday said she did not support the legislation. The legislation currently has no House companion.