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LEGISLATIVE UPDATE FROM REP. STEVE DRAZKOWSKI - DISTRICT 21-B

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Greetings, everyone. I wanted you to know about some of the news here in St. Paul.

Special Session Comes to an End    

Today, the Minnesota Legislature finished the work of this special session. The last bills were passed early this morning, and the Minnesota House of Representatives officially adjourned. In the end, the Minnesota House of Representatives; the Minnesota Senate; and Governor Tim Walz agreed on a $52 billion two-year budget. As a result, we avoided a government shutdown.

This budget is the largest state budget in Minnesota history. This increase in spending can partly be attributed to vast amounts of federal money coming to Minnesota. However, watching our state budgets grow over time is alarming. We need a small, efficient government; not one that is bloated and burdensome.

Nevertheless, Republicans in the Minnesota Legislature were able to stop major Democrat priorities from becoming law. Earlier in the legislative session, Governor Tim Walz rolled out his plan for increasing taxes on businesses and individuals. Republicans stopped this proposal from becoming law.

Additionally, Democrats had plans to make dramatic changes to our election laws. These changes would have severely hurt the integrity of Minnesota elections. Republicans stopped those changes from becoming law.

Much of the credit for these accomplishments belongs to the Republican majority in the Minnesota Senate. These Republican senators were up against a Democrat governor and a Democrat majority in the Minnesota House of Representatives. Despite this, the Republican senate majority handled the legislative session well.

The Legislator-Lobbyist Amendment   

Minnesota has some of the weakest laws regulating lobbyist activity and public disclosure. Too often, politicians and lobbyists work with each other simply to trade favors and become rich at the expense of the people. In fact, the Minnesota Legislature has a history of sitting legislators accepting high-powered jobs with lobbying organizations. This is an egregious betrayal of public trust.

Therefore, my colleagues and I from the New House Republican Caucus drafted an amendment to fix this problem.

Our amendment prevents sitting state legislators from being employed by organizations whose primary activity is legislative lobbying. This is commonsense. No legislator should be employed by people whose sole focus is influencing legislation. Such activities represent a blatant conflict of interest and must be stopped.

I am proud to report that our amendment was passed today by a vote of 119-1. Our amendment is a part of the omnibus tax bill which was passed today by a vote of 69-55. Governor Tim Walz will be signing the legislation into law later today.

Here is my speech about the amendment and transparency in government:

Rep. Drazkowski - 7.1.21

 

The End of the Peacetime Emergency Declaration    

Yesterday, the Minnesota House of Representatives finally voted to end Governor Tim Walz’s peacetime emergency declaration. This step is long overdue in ways I cannot begin to describe.

As you know, the governor’s emergency declaration essentially allowed him to do whatever he wanted. Checks and balances were disregarded, and proper constitutional order was dismissed. This is not how our state government is supposed to work, and I first called for an end to the peacetime emergency declaration back in April of 2020.

After months of voting to allow the governor to keep his powers, the Minnesota House of Representatives voted to end the peacetime emergency declaration by a vote of 134-0. At long last, constitutional government is back in Minnesota.

While this is a positive step for Minnesota, there are still fundamental flaws in state statute that would allow this governor, or a future governor, to declare an emergency and take total control again. The stability and equality of our three branches of government should not be allowed to change on the whims of a rogue governor.

To remedy this situation, I am a co-author of Cal Bahr’s “Never Again” bill. This legislation is the only bill that would prevent the governor from having total control for as long as he wants. Moreover, this bill reforms the entire emergency powers process and gives a stronger voice to the people through their state legislators.

One of my primary goals in the next regular session is to make sure that the Minnesota Legislature reforms the emergency powers process. Cal Bahr’s Never Again legislation is the perfect way to do that. 

Steve Drazkowski

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