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Walz calls Friday special session; plans to extend powers

ST. PAUL — Gov. Tim Walz has called lawmakers back to the Capitol for a special session Friday, citing the need to preserve the emergency powers that he’s been using to manage the coronavirus pandemic.

Tim Walz

The Democratic governor said in his announcement Wednesday he intends to extend the state’s COVID-19 peacetime state of emergency by 30 more days to ensure that the state can continue to quickly and effectively respond.

An agenda for the special session was not immediately announced. The governor had raised the possibility in recent weeks that he might not need to keep calling special sessions each time he extends his emergency powers. But in his proclamation Wednesday, he affirmed his earlier view that state law requires him to do so.

The Republican-controlled Senate has used previous special sessions to vote to end the peacetime emergency, saying that while the pandemic continues, the immediate emergency is over and that it’s time for the governor to work more closely with lawmakers on how to respond. The Democratic-controlled House has blocked those attempts.

Senate Republicans also used last month’s special session to oust the governor’s commissioner of labor and industry. And they’ve signaled that other cabinet members’ jobs could be in jeopardy as the dispute over emergency powers continues.