Sen. Rarick column: Governor's emergency powers inhibit rural communities
It’s time for those who have the power to vote against the continuance of any further peacetime powers for the sake of civil ethics and the common good.
Gov. Tim Walz is holding on to his powers to run the state of Minnesota by himself, even though the emergency portion of the pandemic has ended. We still need to be safe in our activities, but we have prepared for this virus and know how to care for those who still get infected.
Minnesota’s COVID-19 death rate is continually dropping, yet the governor insists that the emergency — be it riots or a pandemic — is still in full swing. We all agree that we need to follow safe practices, but as the dust settles it is high time the Legislature became a part of the decision-making process. That’s why I and 37 of my colleagues in the Minnesota Senate voted to end Gov. Walz’s peacetime emergency powers relative to the COVID pandemic on Friday, June 12. The House of Representatives decided against passing the same resolution, so the governor’s control continues as the longest held peacetime emergency powers in Minnesota history.
Emergency powers have been enacted before and can be a good thing when they are limited. In the beginning we were dealing with an unknown virus, and it seemed a necessary step.
However, our government has become a one-man show. The original drafters of this statute would not have had such a long period in mind, and the governor is now hurting those in rural areas and long-term care with his decisions. In comparison, our similarly populated neighbors in Wisconsin completely reopened weeks ago and continue to have lower rates and cases than we do. Minnesotans are ready to open up, continue safe practices and govern ourselves like the free citizens we are.
Seniors who test positive for COVID-19 have been continually sent back to communal living spaces with other people of their age and vulnerability, causing one of the highest long-term care death rates in the country. Instead of focusing on testing in those spaces and making facilities available to quarantine those who have tested positive, the administration chose to shut down businesses and buy a $6.9 million-dollar morgue. It appears that housing the dead and controlling the movements of healthy Minnesotans is more important than stopping the spread to our most vulnerable.
The Legislature has proven time and time again that we are given the tools and have the capabilities to handle any further decisions. Instead, those who were elected to know and represent the best interest of their districts are continually cut out of the process. We were elected to have a plan and make good, data-driven decisions. The more heads together, the less opportunity for arbitrary decisions made behind closed doors.
Minnesotans are smart people who love their communities. They have and will make safe decisions, but further mandated closure will decimate our rural communities. It’s time for those who have the power to vote against the continuance of any further peacetime powers for the sake of civil ethics and the common good.
Sen. Jason Rarick represents District 11 in the Minnesota Senate.