Editorial Roundup: Needs stalled by partisan friction in Minnesota yet again
Published 8:50 pm Tuesday, October 12, 2021
The partisan divide in Minnesota’s government is getting in the way. Again.
Gov. Tim Walz this week added to a growing list of topics for a potential special session of the state Legislature. But there seems to be zero agreement between the Republican-led Senate and the DFL governor and House on any of the topics.
The first, and perhaps most vexing, of the issues is the standoff over the $250 million authorized already by the Legislature for pandemic bonuses. A nine-member panel — three from each chamber of the Legislature plus three of the governor’s Cabinet — has blown past a Labor Day deadline to draw up the details on how to divvy up that pot of federal funds. The Republicans want a smaller group to get larger checks; the Democrats want more recipients and argue that more money can be added to the fund.
Changing the parameters of the problem is unlikely to bring a solution. The working group should focus on the $250 million and finish the job, which is already more than a month late.
But even if a deal on that topic were struck today, there are obstacles. There are too many Senate Republicans intent on removing the state health commissioner on completely bogus grounds that amount to: She’s trying too hard to get Minnesotans vaccinated.
Jeremy Miller, installed last month as Senate majority leader after Paul Gazelka stepped down to focus on his gubernatorial candidacy, has not pledged to leave Jan Malcolm in place. He should make that pledge. And Walz should not call the Legislature back until Miller guarantees her job security.
The pandemic’s current resurgence, and the GOP’s cavalier attitude about it, is also at the root of this week’s agenda additions. The governor wants vaccine and testing requirements for teachers, school staff, and long-term care workers. He also wants the Legislature to approve reinstating or extending temporary waivers of normal capacity and staffing rules for the state’s strained hospitals.
We favor extending the vaccine rules already in place for state employees to the schools. Miller, foolishly, does not.
Another Walz agenda item, drought relief for the state’s farmers, probably won’t be the focus of these partisan disputes. But it won’t happen until the other issues are resolved.
Settle the pandemic bonus issue closer to the GOP side. Protect Malcolm’s job. Push the teachers and school staffers to get inoculated. Help the hospitals and farmers. Get it done — all of it.
— Mankato Free Press, Oct. 7