Gov. Walz COVID emergency powers will end under legislative deal

The Minnesota House voted overnight Wednesday to end Gov. Tim Walz's emergency powers on July 1 without conditions.

The Senate already voted last week on a July 1 end date. Walz has held the powers since March 2020 and has extended them every 30 days with the backing of the DFL-controlled House. The Republican-led Senate has voted repeatedly to end them, but such a move requires action in both chambers.

Walz's spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The House's vote followed late-night swings that briefly threatened to derail parts of the state budget ahead of a midnight deadline to avoid a partial government shutdown.

Walz started with a surprise late-night announcement that he would end his COVID-19 emergency powers July 1, but with conditions that Republican lawmakers didn't support.

Walz initially asked state lawmakers to let his health commissioner declare a public health emergency, keep some executive orders related to expedited unemployment benefits and reassigning the state workforce during the pandemic, and assert Walz's authority to declare a new peacetime emergency. A spokesman said the governor would continue the emergency until Aug. 1 if lawmakers didn't approve his conditions.

House Democrats passed the conditions on a 70-64 party-line vote, but Republicans who control the Senate said it broke a legislative agreement.

In response, Senate Republicans struck two changes the House made earlier Tuesday night to the public safety bill: restrictions on arrest warrants and making it a crime to post a police officer's home address online. The bill funds state courts and prisons for the next two years beyond Wednesday.

After both chambers took a brief break, legislative leaders put the deals back together. The House rescinded the just-taken vote on the emergency powers conditions, while the Senate restored the two public safety measures.

That left the July 1 end date on the COVID peacetime emergency.