State Sen. Carla Nelson is correct — we need meaningful debate about limits to executive power; it is disheartening then that she and her GOP colleagues seemingly prefer to participate in continued acts of political theater that conflate the importance of checks-and-balances with opportunistic pandering and perpetual campaigning.
Five of the first 10 bills introduced in the GOP-controlled Senate this session aim to rescind Gov. Walz’s use of peacetime emergency authority. Such efforts are myopic distractions masquerading as meaningful representative action. Look no further than Senate File 2, which aims to remove a governor’s authority to close schools in peacetime emergencies. Co-authored by Sen. Nelson, SF2 is simply an ineffectual platform from which to promote dubious claims detached from — and dismissive of — the diligent work being done by local school boards; it’s no wonder then that Sen. Nelson’s wayward promotion of SF2 have found her in hot water recently.
In the unlikely event any of the GOP-proposed bills are passed, they wouldn’t just strip the current governor of essential peacetime emergency authority in the face of an ongoing pandemic, they would also strip emergency authority from all future Minnesota governors. Restoration of that authority would require swift action by a future Minnesota Legislature. If there is anything we can agree on it’s that the legislative branch of government is anything but swift.
Perhaps Sen. Nelson and her colleagues should pause their preparation for the next election, trust locally elected leaders, and work on moving Minnesota forward.
Adam W. Hirsch, Rochester