ST. PAUL — Plans for a Minnesota special session continue to coalesce behind the scenes, Senate GOP Leader Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, said Thursday, Sept. 9.

The announcement came as Miller met with reporters for the first time in his new role and after a state working group blew past its Labor Day deadline to decide how to send out $250 million in hero pay to front-line workers who had to take unpaid time off to quarantine or got sick with COVID-19 during the pandemic.

Sen. Jeremy Miller, R-Winona
Sen. Jeremy Miller, R-Winona

Miller said members of the nine-person working group were getting close to a deal and they expected to make the plan public in the coming days. That could spur Gov. Tim Walz to call lawmakers back to the Capitol for a legislative special session to pass the spending proposal.

Miller said lawmakers were committed to getting the funds out to workers and open to passing a package of drought-relief measures for Minnesota farmers during the special session. But he stopped short of saying whether his caucus would push for the removal of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm.

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“There are serious concerns about Commissioner Malcolm that we’ve heard from constituents but I’ll also say that it’s an ongoing conversation within our caucus and we’ll have to see how it plays out,” Miller told reporters at the Capitol.

Walz has said he won't call legislators back to St. Paul without a commitment from Republicans that they'll let his commissioners remain in place. The governor on Thursday told reporters that his administration had an aid package for farmers hit by historically dry conditions. And he said he remained hopeful that lawmakers could return to take up the drought aid and front-line worker support later this month.

Follow Dana Ferguson on Twitter @bydanaferguson, call 651-290-0707 or email