ST. PAUL — Minnesota's Gov. Tim Walz is now heading up the bipartisan, 12-state Midwestern Governors Association.

In a Thursday, Oct. 15, news release, Walz announced his new appointment as chairman of the association, and said his focus will be expanding and modernizing economic opportunities in the Midwestern energy sector. Part of that will entail prepping communities set to see their nuclear power plants retire, as well as modernizing the Midwest's power grid.

“As energy production and consumption changes, we want the region to be in the best possible position to power our communities and have the energy resources to attract new businesses,” Walz said in Thursday's news release. “Without a robust regional transmission plan, the region is at risk of being left in the dark.”

With those two focal points, Walz said the association can bolster the region's energy economy "so that the Midwest remains a national leader in energy production and technology innovation."

The bipartisan governors of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin are also on the Midwestern Governors Association. As a group, the governors work together to advance policies and development for the entire region. Walz's appointment as head of the association comes just two years after he was elected governor.

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Also on Thursday, Walz co-signed a letter with fellow Democratic governors Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan and Tony Evers of Wisconsin, urging Congress to "put politics aside" and pass a second round of coronavirus relief to help Americans through the pandemic.

"The coronavirus is more than a public health emergency, it is also a continuing economic crisis for the residents and businesses in our states,” the three wrote. “The coronavirus knows no state lines and prioritizing the health of our workers and residents is critical."

They continued, "We implore you to put differences aside and agree to another, much-needed COVID-19 relief bill."