Emergency Powers Bill passes Senate chamber

A bill passed the Senate this week that would limit the ability of the governor to extend peacetime emergencies without full legislative approval. Currently, governors have the authority to declare a peacetime emergency and must call a special session every 30 days to allow the Legislature to reject an emergency declaration during the interim. The bill would instead require a majority vote of both bodies to extend a governor’s peacetime emergency beyond 30 days.

The bill has not been heard in the House and would restrict the ability of Governor Walz to manage the pandemic. Each of the widely supported executive orders managing the pandemic are predicated on these emergency powers, including the eviction moratorium, worker protections, and vaccine distribution. This proposal would result in more gridlock at the Capitol and could even jeopardize federal disaster assistance funding.

48 states remain in a state of emergency declared by both Democratic and Republican governors. Governor Walz has remained committed to protecting public health and saving lives throughout this pandemic. Peacetime emergency powers have allowed him and his administration to respond quickly to the evolving pandemic. Providing one legislative chamber veto power over emergency declarations would be shortsighted and dangerous. (SF 4)