Senate Republicans fire Minnesota commerce commissioner as Walz’s emergency order is extended

After the Minnesota House blocked a Republican effort to end Gov. Walz’s emergency powers over the coronavirus pandemic, Senate Republicans rejected the confirmation of the state’s commerce commissioner.

The Senate voted to oust Commissioner Steve Kelley by a vote of 33-31 on Friday. The vote followed another vote in the Minnesota House to allow Governor Walz to retain his emergency powers for at least another month. Earlier, the Republican-led Senate voted 36-31 to end Walz’s authority. State Senator Kent Eken of Twin Valley was the only Democrat in the Senate to vote with Republicans.

Kelley is the second Walz commissioner in the past month to be fired by the Senate, following Labor Commissioner Nancy Leppink’s ouster last month. Most of Governor Walz’s 24-member cabinet hasn’t been confirmed, which allows the Senate to take action against them.

“My hope is that while we’re fighting the pandemic, they won’t be fighting me on that,” Walz told reporters on Thursday. “I haven’t gotten a guarantee. I just think the public’s probably pretty tired of it.”

Categories: Coronavirus-MN, Minnesota News, Politics / Elections