Walz writes to lawmakers about timeline for ending emergency powers

    Minnesota governor Tim Walz speaks in the State Capitol building in St. Paul Thursday, September 17, 2020. Photo by Nicole Neri/Minnesota Reformer.

    Gov. Tim Walz sent a letter to lawmakers Thursday laying out some conditions that would lead to a wind down of the peacetime emergency declaration under which he’s been governing for roughly 10 months.

    Walz’s use of emergency powers — which he’s used at various times to close schools, restaurants and bars, and to cancel large events — has angered Republican lawmakers, who say they should have some say in pandemic policy while accusing the first-term DFL governor of overreach.

    Walz loosened some COVID-19 restrictions Wednesday, including on bars and restaurants, gyms, events and family gatherings.

    Walz indicates that with vaccine distribution underway and a “light at the end of the tunnel,” he is seeking to relinquish emergency powers. But not without codification in law of some provisions the government has used to protect Minnesotans, in public and at work, including:

    • Increased protections for workers from unsafe working conditions and retaliation from raising concerns about workplace safety.

    • Expansion of unemployment insurance.

    • Mask mandate.

    • Regulations governing school openings.

    • Continuation of the evictions moratorium with a specific timeline for its end.

    • Protections for Minnesotans against price gouging.

    J. Patrick Coolican
    J. Patrick Coolican is Editor-in-Chief of Minnesota Reformer. Previously, he was a Capitol reporter for the Minneapolis Star Tribune for five years, after a Knight-Wallace Fellowship at the University of Michigan and time at the Las Vegas Sun, Seattle Times and a few other stops along the way. He lives in St. Paul with his wife and toddler son.