(The Center Square) – Senate Republicans are pushing back on some of Gov. Tim Walz’s sweeping executive orders (EO) to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Walz shuttered dine-in service at restaurants and bars, as well as closed a variety of other businesses through March 27.
“While we understand the necessity of Governor Walz to lead in this time of crisis, that leadership should not be unilateral and unchecked,” Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka said in a statement.
Walz on Sunday signed an EO suspending the wait time to gain unemployment benefits and eased other restrictions through Dec. 31, which Gazelka said “does not appear to pass constitutional standards.”
“Senate Republicans would prefer to work with the Governor within the legislative process where we can facilitate testimony, oversight and ultimately approval of his actions,” Gazelka said.
Rep. Mary Franson, R- Alexandria, on Twitter questioned Walz’ statutory authority to shutter businesses.
“The Walmarts and Targets of the world get to stay open,” she said. “Small business, the backbone of the economy is shut down.”
The Minnesota Department of Health identified 89 positive COVID-19 cases over 18 counties as of Thursday.
Walz also signed an EO Thursday delaying elective surgeries to keep hospital beds open for those being treated for COVID-19.
“The greatest risk we face during the COVID-19 pandemic is overwhelming our health care systems and limiting their ability to respond to emerging cases,” Walz said in a statement. “This executive order keeps more health care resources open and prioritizes life-saving intervention for COVID-19 patients and other emergency care.”
Sen. Michelle Benson, R-Ham Lake, agreed with the decision.
"The COVID situation is rapidly changing and we appreciate the ability of our health system to adapt. Our nation-leading health care institutions can model best practices in light of a pandemic, working together to implement the right response at the right time,” Benson said in a statement.
"I know the Executive Order today will impact hospital services not related to COVID, but it is necessary to make staff and supplies available to keep our health care system stable if predictions about the COVID spread are accurate.”
Walz on Tuesday signed a $200 million bill into law that funds hospitals and other healthcare providers’ response to the coronavirus.
Some states have taken additional precautions.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf ordered all non-essential businesses to close on Thursday night, the same day as California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered residents to stay in their homes, except for essential duties.