Gov. Tim Walz summoned Minnesota lawmakers back for their seventh special session of the year Wednesday, urging them anew to pass a COVID-19 relief package as cases surge in the state.
Lawmakers will be back at the Capitol on Monday, a required step as Walz again extends his emergency rule-making powers in response to the pandemic. But the Democratic governor is pushing for lawmakers to strike a deal on COVID aid after several weeks of negotiations.
Under consideration is a package that would distribute state help to businesses and workers hit hardest by the recent pandemic-triggered closures of bars, restaurants, entertainment venues and fitness centers. Walz ordered a four-week pause on those businesses as COVID-19 cases surge.
Walz is expected to announce by the end of this week whether those closures continue past Dec. 18.
Walz has said he wants lawmakers to approve $300 to $600 million in state assistance. State leaders got more resources to work with after an economic forecast last week showed Minnesota with a current, $641 million budget surplus.
But talks between Republicans and Democrats in the Legislature have snagged over whether the state relief should be targeted at businesses as Republicans prefer, or include aid for low-income families as Democrats are seeking.
"Minnesota's small businesses and workers are bearing a large burden of the COVID-19 pandemic in order to protect their entire community amid restrictions that are saving lives," Walz said in a statement calling the special session. "I call upon our state legislature to come together and ensure our businesses stay afloat, our workers are supported, and our families can put food on the table."
Briana Bierschbach • 651-925-5042