Doing the right thing shouldn’t be so hard
Minnesota legislators have a chance to do some good things for thousands of Minnesotans. We don’t know why they are having so much trouble doing them.
Legislators and Gov. Tim Walz have been negotiating for a month on measures to provide state aid for essential workers who risked going to work during the pandemic this past year.
The state has about $250 million in front-line worker bonus pay to dole out, but legislators can’t agree on giving money away, apparently. Republicans want to give substantial, $1,200 payments to a limited group – nurses, first responders, corrections officers, long-term care workers and hospice providers. Democrats complain that plan leaves out thousands of others who didn’t have the option of working from home — food processing workers, building services workers and others who took the risk of exposure to perform essential jobs.
Gov. Walz has also proposed a $10 million drought relief plan, but chances of that getting passed in a special session are pretty slim.
Walz is reluctant to call a special session because Republicans in the Senate have been threatening to remove Health Department Commissioner Jan Malcolm, as they have removed other state commissioners during last year’s special sessions. The governor says he will call a session if Republicans will leave Malcolm alone. Republicans are not willing to make that promise.
So once again, dysfunction in the state capitol is holding up aid that could do some good out here in the rest of the state. It shouldn’t be this hard.