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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R)

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Friday, July 3, 2020

St. Paul – Members of the New House Republican Caucus issued the following statement after responding to the Governor’s motion to dismiss their lawsuit, calling his Peacetime Emergency Powers unconstitutional. 

“On the 244th birthday of this nation we remember our declaration of rights and independence from tyranny. This July 4, however, we find ourselves in the strange position of celebrating our freedoms when many of them have been taken away, not by COVID 19, but by the actions of our government in response to COVID 19. 

On March 13, 2020, Minnesota Governor Tim Waltz issued Emergency Executive Order 20-01 declaring a peacetime emergency under Minnesota Statutes 12.31.  Since then, the Governor has issued 76 peacetime emergency executive orders, dealing with nearly every facet of the daily lives of Minnesotans personal and working lives.  He has mandated the closure of businesses resulting in the destruction of livelihoods and has selectively allowed others to open only under an immense regulatory burden, threat of fines, and worse.  

But apart from the economic impact of these actions by Governor Walz is the way that they have impacted our civil liberties. The Governor has dictated how and where we can gather, in churches, high school graduation ceremonies, weddings, and funerals.   

Now, months after anti-COVID 19 measures were first put in place, a funeral still has more restrictions than ?a big box store.  Elective Surgeries were postponed for months (except for abortions) with continuing impacts on the lives and well-being of Minnesotans.  

In question is not merely the Governor’s leadership during this crisis but also the legal construct upon which his emergency powers are based.  Chapter 12 of Minnesota Statutes and particularly 12.31 are unconstitutional. This is not a partisan view, as the law and changes to it were passed under both DFL and GOP legislatures and administrations.  But these laws are fundamentally flawed because they conflict with basic concepts enshrined in the Minnesota constitution: strong statements about the separation of powers, the prohibitions, of one branch usurping another’s powers, the delegation of powers, and that there is no legislative veto. If these parts of the constitution have been re-interpreted in practice so far as to be meaningless, we have a much bigger problem as a state and a free people.  

For these and other reasons, we joined a lawsuit challenging these injuries to our rights and freedoms. We also challenged the Governor’s attack on the Legislature and the Judiciary by usurping the powers granted to those institutions in the Minnesota Constitution.  As legislators, we are especially aware of the Governor’s ability to extend his powers because of the partisan division between House and Senate, all the while complaining that the Legislature isn’t enacting policies he wants when he calls it into session. Arguments about the Legislature’s inability to act in a timely manner misrepresent the truth when the Governor can call it back into session any time and has been able to do it when he wants his powers extended another 30 days. 

We have just submitted our response to Attorney General Keith Ellison’s motion to dismiss with these and other arguments and hope to see our view sustained in the courts.

On the eve of this Independence Day, Governor Walz has announced that he is contemplating mandating the wearing of masks by all healthy Minnesotans despite the mixed evidence that they have done anything to prevent the spread of COVID. He’s already told us why wearing masks is important – as a show of solidarity that we are complying with health regulations.  Americans reject propaganda and empty symbolic gestures. They value reason, logic and authenticity.  We trust that those qualities will guide us through this dark chapter in our state’s history.”

The NHRC is led by Rep. Steve Drazkowski (Republican-Mazeppa). It includes Rep. Cal Bahr (Republican-East Bethel), Rep. Tim Miller (Republican-Prinsburg), and Rep. Jeremy Munson (Republican-Lake Crystal). 

Petitioners in the lawsuit are: Free Minnesota Small Business Coalition, Minnesota State House of Representatives Representative Steve Drazkowski, Representative Jeremy Munson, Representative Cal Bahr, Representative Tim Miller, Representative Jeff Backer, Representative Mary Franson, Representative Glenn Gruenhagen, Representative Eric Lucero, Representative Joe McDonald, Representative Shane Mekeland, Senator Mike Goggin, Senator Scott Jensen, Senator Andrew Mathews, Southwest School of Dance L.L.C., Trev’s Kitchen, Prestige Gymnastics, Yoga by Blisstopia LLC, Title Boxing Club Coon Rapids, Title Boxing Club Arden Hills, Title Boxing Club Rogers, Duff’s LLC d/b/a Duffy’s Bar and Grill, Flaherty’s Arden Bowl, Inc., Three Rivers Fitness.