Greetings as another week in the House winds down. Here is a look at some of this week’s notes:
LOCAL DECISIONS FOR LOCAL SCHOOLS
With thousands of Minnesota students still in remote learning, House Republicans sought to declare urgency this week on legislation that would empower local school districts to make the best decisions for their districts and remove the governor's ability to unilaterally keep schools closed.
Instead, the bill restores power to our local school districts to make decisions locally. This would let parents, teachers, superintendents, and locally elected officials to plan and decide what works best for our specific communities.
People are concerned about a culture of fear that has been festering in our state over losing state funding for not following the governor’s orders to a “T.” Unfortunately, this is sometimes is causing people to hold back on making decisions they believe would better serve local children.
Students and families are suffering great damage from prolonged distance learning, with detrimental impacts to academic achievement, mental health, and more. The science and data show we can safely get our students back in the classroom — even President Biden’s CDC director said multiple times last week that we could safely return to in-person learning before all teachers are vaccinated.
Decisions this important deserve to be made at the local level and this bill provides that avenue. Unfortunately, the House majority blocked a motion to declare urgency on this bill so we could bring it up for a robust discussion and a vote on Thursday.
A hearing took place this week for a bill (HF604) mandating facemasks indefinitely in Minnesota. This bill puts the governor’s mask mandate into state statute and puts the federal government – not legislators or even the governor – in charge of determining when it ends, even if the data here in Minnesota suggests that the mandate could be lifted. It also imposes massive fines on businesses who fail to enforce the mandate and exempts adult athletes from mask requirements while requiring them for children ages 5-18.
Amendments were offered in order to provide some limits on the bill, including setting a sunset date of 11 months from now. Unfortunately, the majority voted this down. No formal action was taken on moving this bill forward and, for now, it remains set aside for possible further consideration at another date.
On Wednesday, Minnesota Management and Budget released the January revenue report showing $296 million more in tax collections than previously anticipated that month. According to MMB, fiscal year to date receipts now are $459 million above forecast.
In other words, our moderate shortfall is getting even slimmer, and the governor should abandon his plan to raise taxes by $1.7 billion. It’s time to help people get back on track and revitalize our business community instead burdening them with more tax increases as the governor proposes.
I want to remind people of opportunities to provide input on the governor’s push to bring California car standards to Minnesota. Judge Jessica Palmer-Denig will conduct video hearings at 3 p.m. both Feb. 22 and 23. Links to attend the online events can be found here. You also can provide comments on the OAH website until the March 15 deadline.
Again, I hope people take advantage of these opportunities. If the governor’s proposal takes effect, we would see increased vehicle costs, limited choices to vehicles such as trucks and SUVs and our local auto dealers would be harmed. We also would inexplicably be ceding our state’s policy-making ability on energy to bureaucrats 1,700 miles away in California.
Until next time, stay in touch and let me know how I may help.