Why the Chapter 12 'Emergency Powers' Law Needs to Be Terminated

At one point, the legislature in good faith, decided to create a chapter of laws that address what happens to the Minnesota government under an emergency. In the case of an act of nature, a technological failure or malfunction, a terrorist incident, an industrial accident, a hazardous materials accident, or a civil disturbance that endangers life and property, the Minnesota legislature allowed the Governor to declare a peacetime emergency for five days. 

Consider the time period that Chapter 12 laws were created - pre-internet. It was created in a period of time where conducting business by the legislature, which has the sole constitutional authority to create laws, could not work on legislation remotely to address immediate needs. Nowadays, in the age of high speed internet, the legislature has proven that business can be conducted remotely. The Minnesota House is almost entirely doing business on Zoom as we speak. They're appropriating funds, creating laws and interfacing daily with government agencies. 

Even if the legislature couldn't address an emergency immediately, the creators of Chapter 12 law believed that five days was an adequate amount of time for Representatives and Senators to make it to Capitol grounds to take care of business. We're now going on 11 months of Governor Walz' declare emergency.

It's clear that no peacetime emergency justifies throwing out Minnesota's Constitutional Republic for unilateral, authoritarian rule by the Governor based on addressing a crisis in real time. Those who argue the opposite, truly do not desire the spirit of democracy. What we have right now in Minnesota is the antithesis of democracy. Removing the legislature from lawmaking powers essentially removes the electorate from their representation in Government. 

Some believe that Chapter 12 laws aren't problematic, it's the way that Governor Walz interpreted them that was the problem. He vaguely took language from the laws to create his own rules and determine how to penalize violators. Those self declared powers led to orders that shut down businesses, forcing many to close, and led to lockdowns that created a mental health crisis in the state. It's naive to believe that Walz will be the only one to use Chapter 12 in such an abusive way in the future. Governors in states like Michigan, New York and California have done similar measures. Power corrupts!

With these reasons, it's time to eliminate Chapter 12 laws from the books!

But politicians at the Capitol, on both sides of the aisle, are focused on tweaking the law instead of eliminating it. For instance, State Senator Warren Limmer has a bill that would "clarify" that the maximum penalty the Governor could assess on a violator of his rules is 90 days in jail. I guess it never occurred to him and co-authors Senators Johnson and Ingebrigtsen that allowing a Governor to throw violators of his order in jail should be outright banned. 

Even worse, Rep Gene Pelowski and Republicans like Rep Barb Haley are working together on a committee to draft a Fake End Walz' Powers bill that simply tweaks the law to allow the legislature to weigh in on specific executive orders, while allowing the remainder of the Governor's powers remain intact. They'll no doubt sell this as a solution - when we all know it's a facade.



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  • Jake Duesenberg
    published this page in News 2021-01-21 14:19:46 -0600