With Senate stonewalling, special session ends with no agreement

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Matt Doll, Minnesota Environmental Partnership

Early this morning, the Minnesota Legislature adjourned its weeklong special session after reaching no agreements on racial justice, police accountability, funding for environmental projects, COVID-19 responses, or any other outstanding major issue from the end of the regular session in May.

Though Governor Walz and leadership in the DFL-controlled House wished to continue negotiating on these bills, Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka said that the Legislature needed a break before returning to the table, and his caucus voted to adjourn the special session. It’s not certain when the Legislature will return, but if Governor Walz extends his emergency powers in response to COVID-19 once again, another special session is inevitable later this summer.

It’s frustrating that the Legislature is pausing its work for Minnesotans during this critical time. Minnesota communities are in desperate need of economic relief, of equitable and effective public safety measures, and of solutions for our increasingly damaged environment.

The Senate resistance to listening to the Legislature’s People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) caucus’ policy proposals stymied much needed progress toward making our state safer and more equitable for Minnesotans of color. The failure to pass a bonding bill or an Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund bill further delays vital environmental restoration and construction projects and may put others in jeopardy, costing jobs at a time when the state’s unemployment rate is at a record high of nearly 10%.

The longer this work is delayed, the more Minnesotans’ health and economic well-being will be impacted. And this is no time for half-measures: not on criminal justice reform, not on community rebuilding, not on jobs, not on water, not on transit, not on climate action.

We can’t control when the Legislature will return, or what they will agree and disagree on when they do. But MEP and our allies will continue lobbying lawmakers to get the job done, and we need Minnesotans to keep up the pressure. Our Action Alert page has several email forms that you can use to speak out on environmental issues; we also encourage you to use the form at the bottom of the page to find your lawmakers’ contact information and send them a personal message. Let them know that anything less than real progress forward is a surrender to a status quo that is actively taking Minnesota backward.

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