(The Center Square) – After 15 months of unprecedented power, Gov. Tim Walz’s emergency power will end Thursday as part of the state government omnibus bill passed by the House and Senate overnight.
The agreement stipulates the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will continue disbursing $45 million monthly of emergency food assistance funds via health commissioners, extends unemployment insurance regulations through August 1, and halts Walz’s authority to continue managing COVID-19 vaccination and testing.
Over the last 15 months, $505 million of food benefits have flowed into the state to 282,000 households. During the same period, the state legislature voted 10 times to end the governor’s emergency power.
“The COVID-19 peacetime emergency allowed us to respond quickly and effectively to the pandemic this past year. We built testing sites from the ground up, we secured emergency personal protective equipment to protect our healthcare workers on the frontlines, and we developed a nation-leading vaccination program to get life-saving shots into the arms of Minnesotans,” Walz said in a statement.
Local food banks welcomed the deal.
“As Minnesota’s largest food bank, we recognize that we cannot solve hunger through food distributions alone. Many of the Minnesotans visiting our state’s food shelves also rely on federal nutrition programs like SNAP to stock their pantries and fridges, and since March of 2020, boosted SNAP benefits have ensured that even as people experienced layoffs and illness, they were not forced to face the pandemic hungry,” CEO of Second Harvest Heartland Allison O’Toole said in a statement.
The announcement follows Walz signing three more bills into law:
Lawmakers have one day for the House and Senate to pass the tax bill and the Senate to pass the E12 bill before a partial government shutdown.