ST. PAUL – The Minnesota House adjourned Thursday from a special session after having approved a series of omnibus finance bills to shape the state’s next two-year budget.
State Rep. Paul Anderson, R-Starbuck, said the finished product is something of a mixed bag, with some key victories and some other provisions that are cause for concern.
“I am pleased the House minority was able to stop health care costs from skyrocketing, supported law enforcement and prevented billions of dollars in tax increases at a time the state is flush with cash. I also am pleased that we provided tax relief for suffering businesses and people who have been out of work during the pandemic.
“Locally, it is good to see we were successful in providing around $600,000 in the tax bill to help Melrose recover from a fire that caused significant damage in the city in 2016. Alexandria also received $120,000 to also help recover from a devastating fire.”
Anderson expressed concern for a lack of progress on a couple of other issues. Legislative action was not taken preventing the governor from mandating California’s auto standards in Minnesota. A long-term extension for Minnesota’s reinsurance program that has reduced health care costs also was not approved.
“We got another year of reinsurance, which is good, but this issue will need to be taken up again soon to spare people from the double-digit premium increases they were suffering before this program was put in place,” Anderson said. “And, at the very least, we need to bump out the governor’s push to force more electric cars on our market to allow time for this transition.”
In addition, the Legislature on Wednesday approved language ending Minnesota’s peacetime emergency for COVID-19 the governor declared in March of 2020. The move came on a motion made by House Republicans to amend a state government finance omnibus bill which subsequently passed both bodies.
House Democrats then on Thursday amended language related to emergency powers onto an omnibus tax bill which was approved. Anderson said he objected to the change and expressed concern that it grants power to the governor’s commissioners to declare a public health emergency for nearly any reason without proper guardrails to prevent overreach.