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Thursday, December 2, 2021

Minnesota Republicans drop call to remove health commissioner by negotiating in special session

Minnesota Senate Republicans this week said they were willing to give up the opportunity to fire Waltz’s administrative executives if that means lawmakers could return to St. Paul later this year for a special session.

This issue has become a key stumbling block that has delayed the achievement of a compromise between the leaders in the divided State Chamber.

The GOP move could show the way forward for plans to send $ 250 million to frontline workers, pay drought relief to producers, and ditch benefits that could make it easier for hospitals grappling with rising COVID-19 patients.

Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, told WCCO Radio on Tuesday morning that he met with Health Commissioner Ian Malcolm last week and would be willing to postpone the vote to approve Malcolm and other commissioners until next year. Republicans have tried to get Malcolm fired after they disagreed with her approach to mitigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are ready to postpone any discussions regarding approval by the commissioners this time to hold a special meeting and continue those conversations during the next legislative session,” Miller said.

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House Speaker Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, told MPR News on Tuesday that the change in position could better set up the Legislature for a special session later this year.

“The key to success was overcoming divisions on the part of Republicans over the removal of the health commissioner,” Hortman said.

In 2020, the Republican-led Senate voted to remove the former labor, industry and commerce commissioners. And in the summer, former Minnesota Pollution Agency Commissioner Laura Bishop resigned before the Senate was to reject her approval.

Only Governor Tim Waltz can summon MPs for a special session. And the governor said Democrats who control the House of Representatives and Republicans who control the Senate must agree on a list of items they will take when they return to the Capitol for this to happen. He said he would not call a session unless GOP senators agree not to remove the commissioners.

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