We are wrapping up another busy week in the Minnesota House, where today marks the second of three deadlines for bills to make preliminary committee progress and remain viable for passage this session.
The 2022 session is more than halfway complete, with adjournment scheduled for the latter part of May. We will start to enter crunch time after the House returns from observing the Easter/Passover holiday on April 19. Stay tuned for more as omnibus bills start to take shape and we have a clearer picture of how things stand down the home stretch.
Here are some notes on other current issues:
House DFL pushes to bring Calif. fuel regs to Minn.
House Democrats conducted a hearing this week for legislation (HF2083) that would increase already soaring gas prices and worsen supply-chain issues by forcing California fuel regulations on Minnesotans.
Research indicates the CFS proposal would cause the cost of gasoline and diesel fuel to increase by 20 cents per gallon in the near term and up to 54 cents per gallon by 2035. The California mandate would force the average Minnesota household to spend an additional $210 to $570 per year, every single year at the pump.
This proposal is completely out of touch and is about the least efficient, most costly approach to reducing carbon. These cost increases will harm rural families, single-parent households, and new arrivals to Minnesota the most because they already spend a higher portion of their budgets on gas and energy costs. None of the additional costs imposed on Minnesota families will pay for upgrading our roads and bridges.
People already are being crushed by soaring prices at the pump. We need to focus on ways of lessening the burden of higher costs in today’s Biden/Walz economy and this bill would take us the wrong direction.
Unnecessary tax hike becomes real
Minnesota employers are now seeing increases on their unemployment insurance rates come to light after House Democrats stopped preventative legislation from reaching enactment. One constituent I spoke with this week said he received a 23-percent increase.
This tax increase easily could have been avoided. All the House needed to do was to approve the same bipartisan bill the Senate passed more than one month ago by a veto-proof margin. Instead, House Democrats prevented the bill from even coming up for a vote so we could send it to the governor for enactment.
This is a serious issue and employers could face state and federal penalties if they do not comply with the state’s new unemployment insurance tax rates. Given the serious consequences at stake, it is hard to comprehend the bad advice some Democrats offered by suggesting to job providers that they “wait and see” on UI tax relief instead of following their prescribed payment schedule. That has the potential to take a bad situation and make it even worse, causing people to incur penalties and have matters compound because House Democrats failed to take timely action on this issue.
While this issue should have been resolved long ago, I encourage House Democrats to bring the bill the Senate approved with overwhelming support to the House floor as soon as possible so we can pass it and put this needless tax increase to rest.
ALS research funding approved
The House and the Senate both recently approved funding for research to find a cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. The bill includes $20 million for research and $5 million for ALS-specific respite care. The governor signed this into law this week.
Have a good weekend and, as always, please let me know how I may help.