St. Paul, Minn. (KTTC) -- Minnesota Legislature's fourth special session of the year is underway in St. Paul. Senate Republicans again wanting to end the Governor's emergency powers but the governor has extended them once again.
Now, the Minnesota Senate has voted to remove Commerce Commissioner Steve Kelley from his position. The Republican majority in the Senate expressed concerns about Kelley's qualifications to regulate the insurance industry, as well as his decision to appeal a permit for the embattled Enbridge pipeline project.
In a tweet Friday evening, Governor Tim Walz said: "Commissioner Kelley is a true public servant who works hard and never asks for credit. Senate Republicans could‘ve used the special session to help us fight COVID-19. Instead they chose to fight me, firing someone charged with protecting Minnesotans during this pandemic."
In a statement, Minnesota House speaker Melissa Hortman called the decision irresponsible saying, “Governor Walz and his administration are trying to combat a global pandemic and instead of working with him, Senate Republicans are actively making it harder to fight this virus. It’s irresponsible for Republicans to continue to target individuals over a political disagreement with the Governor.”
Meanwhile, Rochester republican Senator Carla Nelson says, “This was not an easy decision. I deeply respect the ability of Minnesota governors to choose their own commissioners, but I also take seriously the Senate’s role in the process. That role includes not confirming commissioners when the situation warrants."
The decision comes one month after the Senate rejected another Walz appointee, then-Commissioner of Labor and Industry Nancy Leppink.