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Walz calls special session to address emergency powers, COVID-19

Lawmakers are set to return to the Capitol next week to weigh in on the peacetime emergency.

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Gov. Tim Walz and Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development Steve Grove, right, speak outside of a community action partnership organization in St. Paul's Midway neighborhood on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020. Matthew Guerry / Forum News Service
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ST. PAUL — Gov. Tim Walz on Friday, Aug. 7, announced that he would call lawmakers back next week for another special legislative session to weigh the use of his enhanced executive powers.

Walz in a proclamation said lawmakers would return to the Capitol Wednesday, Aug. 12, to vote on a possible veto of a proposed 30-day extension to Minnesota's peacetime emergency to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The governor in March declared a peacetime emergency to respond to the pandemic and to allow the state to pull down federal emergency funds and deploy the Minnesota National Guard. In the months since, Walz has used the emergency to issue orders temporarily closing schools, restaurants and bars and requiring most Minnesotans to stay home.

Forty-nine of 50 states have also declared peacetime emergencies to address the pandemic and the governor and Democrats have said the additional powers are needed to make the state's response nimble in the face of uncertainty.

Republicans meanwhile, have voted to end the emergency in two prior special sessions and have said they plan to do so again next week. Both chambers need to vote against the extension to block it.

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With a divided Legislature, it's unlikely an effort to end the emergency would prevail.

Dana Ferguson is a Minnesota Capitol Correspondent for Forum News Service. Ferguson has covered state government and political stories since she joined the news service in 2018, reporting on the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the divided Statehouse and the 2020 election.
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