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Another impasse

Republicans in the Minnesota Legislature have been complaining since the middle of May that Governor Tim Walz should end the state of peacetime emergency that he called to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, and allow the Legislature to have a say in how the state should be responding.

The week-long special session that ended Saturday is proof once again that if you have an emergency situation, a committee is no way to get a swift, effective response.

The Legislature ended its session after failing to complete its major task of the session, a bonding bill to finance major capital projects in the state. One reason the bill failed was that legislators knew the governor was going to call a special session on June 13 to renew the state of emergency, and they could deal with it then.

In the meantime, the death of George Floyd and the resulting demonstrations and riots distracted everyone from continuing negotiations on a bonding bill, and added the issue of police reforms to the special session agenda.

After seven days of the session, the legislators adjourned after accomplishing basically nothing. Republicans tried to strip the governor of his peacetime emergency powers, the DFLers rebuffed the effort, and then the House and Senate passed separate police reform bills that got no support from the other house. Then, we presume, they turned in their time sheets and per diem requests and went home.

Our Legislature, obviously, is not built to take swift, effective action on issues that come before it. Why any legislator thinks it should be involved in making the day-to-day decisions about the COVID-19 pandemic is beyond us.

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