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Judge dismisses challenge to governor’s COVID-19 orders

ST. PAUL — A Ramsey County judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging Gov. Tim Walz’s executive orders during the coronavirus pandemic.

Thirteen Republican legislators and a group of businesses contended the Democratic governor abused his power and interfered with the legislative process when he limited closed schools, issued a mask mandate and limited businesses’ operations.

District Court Judge Thomas Gilligan upheld the governor’s actions Tuesday, the Star Tribune reported.

“The Governor has acted pursuant to the authority delegated to him by the Legislature,” Gilligan wrote. “The COVID-19 pandemic constitutes an act of nature that provides the Governor with the basis to declare a peacetime state of emergency in Minnesota.”

A group called Free Minnesota Small Business Coalition argued the governor is usurping the powers of the Legislature and that COVID-19 is not an “act of nature” meriting a peacetime emergency.

The Walz administration and DFL legislators have maintained that an emergency declaration is necessary to deal with the pandemic.

The lawsuit is one of several that have been filed in state and federal courts challenging the governor’s powers related to the coronavirus.