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Gov. Walz to end COVID-19 emergency powers on Aug. 1

The governor's peacetime emergency powers have been in place for more than a year during the COVID-19 pandemic.

ST PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said his peacetime emergency powers will come to an end by Aug. 1.

"That's when the toolbox will close, everything will be done, it'll be done in an orderly fashion," Walz told reporters Friday at the State Capitol. "At this point in time, it's turning off the lights and sweeping the floor."

Gov. Walz first declared a peacetime emergency in March 2020, giving his office additional powers to make decisions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including activating the State Emergency Operations Center and coordinating testing, vaccination programs and expansions of the state's unemployment insurance program.

However, with increasing vaccination rates and declining case numbers, the governor said the state is now ready to wind down those powers. That includes demobilizing state COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites in July, and working to transition the unemployment insurance program back to its standard operations.

Under state law, each peacetime emergency is limited to 30 days, and the legislature must be in session at the time, leading Gov. Walz to call a number of special sessions to extend his additional powers throughout the pandemic. During that time, the Republican-controlled Minnesota Senate has routinely voted to end the emergency powers; however, the DFL-controlled Minnesota House has never followed suit.

Walz said his office will need time to redeploy hundreds of state employees who had been reassigned during the pandemic, so one final special session is likely to be needed in mid-July to maintain the emergency declaration through the end of the month. 

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