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Minnesota lawmakers report progress toward special session

November 23, 2021 GMT

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The top Republican in the Minnesota Senate said Tuesday he’s willing to postpone a debate over the confirmation of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm and other top advisers of Gov. Tim Walz in order to help break the stalemate over a special session on bonuses for frontline workers.

Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller said if Democrats agree to discuss Republican proposals on coronavirus measures, the GOP would drop threats to oust Malcolm and others. Republicans have been critical of Walz’s emergency powers and public health restrictions regarding the coronavirus and believe that getting rid of Malcolm would send a message.

The GOP proposals outlined in a letter on Monday include regulatory relief and up to $250 million for long-term care facilities, as well as lifting some COVID-19 vaccine policies instituted by Walz, Minnesota Public Radio News reported.

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“If we can find agreement on the areas that were outlined in that letter, Senate Republicans would be willing to back off any discussions regarding commissioners for a special session,” Miller said.

Democratic House Speaker Melissa Hortman said removing confirmations from the special session agenda is a big step forward and she plans to resume negotiations with Miller. The two lawmakers are trying to reach a deal around $250 million in bonuses for frontline pandemic workers, farm drought relief and emergency nursing home assistance.