Give the state’s heroes hazard pay

One of the crying shames of the Minnesota legislative game playing is the impasse that has kept Gov. Tim Walz from calling a special session to approve passing out the hero pay for frontline workers, drought relief, and stabilization measures for nursing homes.

The state has $250 million from the federal government to distribute to frontline workers in recognition of their heroic efforts during the COVID pandemic. But Republicans and Democrats can’t agree on who counts as a hero and how much they should get. Even if they could, Gov. Walz is leery of calling a special session unless Republicans in the Senate assure him they won’t seek to oust Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm. He is entirely right to do so. Removing Malcolm is a dumb idea that would hamper the state’s COVID-19 strategy.

Earlier this week, however, Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller told Minnesota Public Radio news that Republicans and Democrats were closing in on an agreement, and that he would be willing to set aside the threats to Malcolm in exchange for other agreements.

If he is serious, and the legislature can agree on a session agenda, it should do so and get the extra pay to the frontline workers, who certainly deserve it.


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