Gov. Tim Walz will extend the coronavirus state of emergency, triggering a sixth special session of the Minnesota Legislature this year.

The Democratic governor cited a "dangerous phase of the pandemic" in a statement announcing his decision. The state reported nearly 4,000 new lab-confirmed cases Monday, as public health officials expressed concerns about hospital capacity.

"We're in the midst of a surge in case positivity and hospitalizations," Walz said. "Extending the Peacetime Emergency will help ensure we have the tools we need to respond quickly to protect Minnesotans' health and well-being."

Walz's use of emergency executive authority, which covers the statewide mask mandate, restaurant capacity restrictions and other regulations related to the pandemic, has been the subject of political debate for months.

In previous special sessions, Republican legislators have sought to end the governor's use of emergency powers. Without support from DFL lawmakers in the House, such efforts failed.

Lawmakers have also used recent assemblies to pass unfinished business from the regular session, including police accountability and public works borrowing bills. No other major issues are expected to be on the agenda this time.

The Thursday meeting of both chambers will set a record for the most special sessions in a biennium.

Torey Van Oot • 651-925-5049