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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Chris Swedzinski (R)

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Legislative update

Friday, February 26, 2021

Dear Neighbor, 

Here is a quick look at the latest news and notes from the Capitol:

Butcher bill 

I have authored a bill to help butcher shops grow their businesses and meet surging demand for local meat products, providing tax exemptions for capital investments local butchers make in their business.

The idea is to help the smaller shops, mainly in Greater Minnesota, upgrade their equipment or, potentially, to conduct modifications when a change in ownership happens. We’ve really seen, with the pandemic, a huge need for butcher shops and keeping our meat local. This bill will give sales tax relief to butcher shops when they buy equipment. So, when they buy a new saw or a grinder, it will help with the cost. It will defray a lot of those dollars to keep them local so these businesses can expand.

Expanded production from local butchers also could help mitigate market shortages – and price hikes – such as those experienced when larger processing plants were shut down in recent months.

There’s a large need for locally grown, locally produced pork and beef. Sadly, we really saw a huge bottleneck, and this will help businesses that are looking to expand, or upgrade, their rural butcher shop business.

I hope we can find support across the aisle. We’re working with Democrats and Republicans to move this bill forward to help our rural economies and hope our little, small downtowns can continue to have their butcher shops be successful.

My bill was introduced Thursday in the House and awaits its first hearing.

State budget forecast 

Minnesota Management & Budget today issued a new state economic forecast which projects a $1.6 billion surplus for the 2022-23 budget cycle. This is a sharp turnaround from the $1.3 billion shortfall projected in December for the same period.

It is encouraging to see Minnesota’s economy improving, from projections of a multi-billion-dollar shortfall just months ago to a position of surplus today. The fact the state has excess revenue, during a pandemic no less, just further illustrates the governor’s proposal to raise our taxes by $1.7 billion is detached from reality.

The improved outlook should make non-starters out of tax increases the governor and fellow Democrats propose. We don't need to be raising taxes on businesses and families who have already sacrificed so much over the past year. Instead, we should be working toward fully reopening our state so families and businesses can work on recovering income they have lost under the governor’s restrictions.

MMB said the turnaround is due, in large part, to an improved U.S. economic outlook that is bolstered by large federal actions that have emerged since November and were not incorporated in earlier projections. The projected surplus also is related to a higher revenue forecast, lower state spending, and an increased surplus for the current fiscal year.

SAFE Account 

House Republicans remain committed to ensuring law enforcement has the resources needed to keep Minnesotans safe.

Unfortunately, plans to create a $35 million public safety emergency fund in order to provide law enforcement agencies with additional resources and help avoid a repeat of last summer’s Minneapolis riots have stalled. Ideally, this new SAFE Account would be in place before the Derek Chauvin trial begins.

The House majority twice tried and failed to get their SAFE Account bill off the floor (HF445) and now must decide whether it wants to pursue a bipartisan approach or continue allowing extreme, fringe views to hold up this bill.

The most recent attempt failed by a 62-72 vote, the first time in years that a priority bill for the majority and/or governor has been defeated on the House floor. A major source of the holdup is the majority insists on including controversial policy provisions that caused the bill to lose support of Minnesota's top three law enforcement groups, while also blocking Republican attempts to offer a meaningful compromise that could have earned significant bipartisan support.

The Star Tribune has taken note and recently published an editorial from its staff entitled: State House Republicans have the right idea on police security funding. It provides quotes relaying the fact House Republicans agree with the governor’s request to set up this account and that we concur reimbursing other police and sheriffs’ departments for extraordinary mutual aid is appropriate. 

Have a good weekend and we’ll be in touch soon.