Special Session Begins, Peacetime Emergency Continues

The legislature began a special session on Monday, June 14, at noon. Special session was necessary for Governor Tim Walz to extend the state’s peacetime emergency due to COVID-19. As has happened numerous times since the peacetime emergency first began, House Republicans brought forward a resolution to terminate it. The resolution failed by a margin of 64-68.

Passage of Budget Begins

Four budget bills were on the agenda for the House of Representatives on Thursday: Commerce & Energy, Higher Education, Agriculture & Broadband, and Legacy Funding for outdoor and cultural heritage funds. More than 60 amendments were prepared to be offered to the bills, including 28 for the Commerce & Energy bill alone.

The first bill brought up in the House was the Commerce bill, Special Session H.F. 6. After more than twelve hours of discussion, a motion to re-refer the bill to committee was defeated, two amendments had been voted on and a third amendment was offered. At that point, as the clock was nearing midnight, the bill was laid on the table. The other three bills were also laid on the table.

Meanwhile, the Senate debated each of the four bills the House had on the calendar within a few hours, as they had expected the House to pass and send each of them over. Once the House passes the bills, the Senate will be able to officially pass them.

Public Allowed in Capitol

When session was gaveled in on Monday, it was the first time since March of 2020 that the public was able to be in the Capitol while the legislature was in session. Several activists held rallies, reminding everyone in attendance how much the building echoes. However, it was still difficult for the public to interact with elected officials, as the areas in front of the House and Senate Chambers were roped off to all but the elected officials and staff.

Additional Tentative Agreements Announced

Chairs for a few other committees announced that they had reached tentative agreements throughout the week. A bill on taxes has been introduced, and though it was scheduled for a hearing on Thursday, that hearing was postponed until Friday. Agreements on Workforce/Jobs, Housing and Transportation have also been announced, and details are slowly being made public.

While a number of bills are still being negotiated, there are a handful that are likely to have the most controversial details decided by House and Senate leadership, along with the Governor. Among these bills are Public Safety & Judiciary, State Government and Environment.

National Guard Asked to Prepare for Likely Call Up

Protests and unrest have continued in the Uptown area of Minneapolis following the shooting death of Winston Smith earlier this month. Protesters have blocked a road in this busy area, even after blockades had been removed by police, and a woman was killed when a driver intentionally drove into a group of protesters. Governor Walz has put the National Guard on notice that they are likely to be called up soon to help with the situation.

June 18, 2021