On Monday, Gov. Walz issued an executive order (EO 20-35) extending the peacetime emergency until May 13. This does not mean that other orders, such as the stay-at-home or school closure orders, are extended to that date. Rather, the extension of the peacetime emergency allows for the continuation of those closure orders and allows implementation of other orders necessary to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under Minnesota law, when the governor issues a peacetime emergency, the initial order can extend up to 30 days by resolution of the Executive Council, which is made up of the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, state auditor and attorney general. Gov. Walz declared the first peacetime emergency relating to COVID-19 through Executive Order 20-01 on March 13, which allowed him to issue other pandemic-related orders until April 13. The order issued Monday extends that peacetime emergency by 30 days to May 13.
When a peacetime emergency is extended beyond 30 days, the Legislature has the authority to terminate the order, but it requires a majority vote by both the House and Senate. Although the Senate has expressed concern about the extension, it is almost a certainty that the House, with its DFL majority, would not vote to terminate the emergency.
Gov. Walz has not determined whether the stay-at-home order will extend beyond May 4. He said he is working with his team on how to reopen portions of Minnesota’s economy without endangering public health.
Also on Monday, Gov. Walz announced a hiring freeze on all executive branch positions. Under the freeze, state agencies may not fill vacant positions (except positions required by law) or create any new positions except ones related to COVID-19 response. In addition, the Governor said that he and his cabinet will take a 10% pay cut for the remainder of 2020.