House GOP leaders say they won’t move forward on bonding under peacetime emergency

House Minority Leader Rep. Kurt Daudt says the peacetime emergency should be lifted to allow lawmakers to vote on the next steps to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. 

On March 13, Governor Walz declared a peacetime emergency, allowing him to bypass the legislature when making some decisions to respond to COVID19. Rep. Daudt says after nearly two months of operating this way, power should be restored to the legislature.

“Those decisions to protect Minnesotans that were needed at the time have been made and now we really want the governor to take a more deliberative and inclusive approach and include the legislature in how we move forward from here,” Rep. Daudt said.

Now, Rep. Daudt and other House Republicans say they won’t move forward on a $2 billion bonding bill, borrowing money for construction projects throughout the state, until the peacetime emergency is lifted.

“This isn’t about stopping anything. It’s just about having more people involved in the decision-making process and we think that’s appropriate,” Rep. Daudt said.

Meanwhile, House Democrats say this move will slow down economic stimulus across Minnesota. The bonding bill would fund new construction projects and create jobs for thousands of Minnesotans.

“It really puts people to work now and those construction jobs help people all across Minnesota because it has a ripple effect in other parts of the local community,” House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler said.

Rep. Winkler says this year more than ever getting this money to communities is important. He also says the powers being executed by the governor are powers that were given to him by the legislature.

“I don’t really understand the concern about the governor using too much power it feels more like this is typical legislative games. And we really don’t need that this year,” Rep. Winkler said.

Rep. Daudt says regardless of politics, he thinks lawmakers should hold off on approving borrowing until they have a better understanding of the financial hit the state will take as they continue to respond to COVID19 and miss out on sales tax revenue from the hospitality and retail industries.

“Because of all of these uncertain economic times that we’re in we probably should wait until we know what the revenue forecast picture is for the state of Minnesota,” Rep. Daudt said.

Statement from Speaker Hortman and Majority Leader Winkler on local jobs and projects bill

“It's disappointing to see the minority leader threaten to block much-needed investments in local jobs and projects in our communities,” said Speaker Hortman. “Governor Walz and his Administration have served the people of Minnesota well during this crisis, and his thoughtfulness is why Minnesotans overwhelmingly approve of his actions. Ending the peacetime emergency declaration before the emergency has passed would be reckless.”

“Minnesota needs to build its way out of the COVID-19 crisis, not play games with Governor Walz’s needed emergency powers,” said Majority Leader Winkler. “Minnesotans in every part of the state need a strong local projects and jobs bill, and DFLers in the House are committed to delivering it with no strings attached. Workers need jobs that are safe, and we intend to create as many of them as we can.”

Statement from House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt

“House Republicans are ready and willing to work with the governor on the COVID response, keeping people safe, and on a bonding bill, but it's time for the governor to work with the legislature on our path forward.  The governor needed his emergency powers to navigate the fast-moving crisis, but after two months of unilateral power and decision-making it's time for him to work with us on decisions and actions regarding the future of the state."