Minnesota Senate Republicans have made the first of what will likely be many offers to be traded with House Democrats, as lawmakers work toward wrapping up the state budget by May 17th.  Among the Senate G-O-P’s initial “gives”:  spend 200 million dollars of federal money for COVID front-line worker bonuses, and delay new vehicle emission standards for two years, instead of not having them at all.   Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka is also asking House Democrats to support canceling all of Governor Tim Walz COVID emergency orders, including the mask mandate.

“That doesn’t mean people can’t wear their mask.  It doesn’t mean that businesses can’t choose what they want to do, but the governor should not have the ability to have a mandate on everybody wearing the masks.”

It’s expected Walz will announce dial-backs on COVID restrictions this week, but sources indicate he’d likely leave the mask mandate in place as an additional safety precaution while more Minnesotans are being vaccinated.