I wish you and yours a blessed Easter/Passover season. Please be careful on the roads if your plans involve traveling to be with friends and family.
When the House returns to business after the holiday, only six full weeks will remain in the 2021 session. That means a whole lot of work will have to take place in a relatively tight timeline to get our next state budget enacted before our May 17 date for adjournment.
It will be interesting to see how things unfold down the stretch but, for now, here is a look at some recent news from the House:
This week, the House Speaker claimed there is no "realistic path forward" on legislation to provide our law enforcement with resources they need for mutual aid agreements. This includes potential law enforcement responses for the Chauvin trial and other major public safety events. That bill has been stalled since the House DFL proposal failed twice weeks ago on the House floor.
The Speaker falsely blamed Republicans for the impasse on the SAFE/LEO bill that was passed with bipartisan support last month in the Senate but has failed to advance in the Democrat-controlled House. The same day the Speaker made her erroneous comment, House Republicans made a motion to take the bipartisan Senate SAFE/LEO bill from the table for immediate consideration and passage. House Democrats once again voted no, blocking it on a party-line vote.
To recap: House Democrats tried and failed twice to bring up and pass their own bill, and have repeatedly blocked efforts by House Republicans to even allow votes on the compromise SAFE Account proposal, which was endorsed by the Star Tribune, as well as the bipartisan Senate LEO bill that recently passed that body.
This makes it crystal clear that the House Democrats are the roadblock to passage of a SAFE/LEO bill. If they can't even garner support for their own bill, it's time to allow a vote on a compromise proposal, or work with Republicans to negotiate a meaningful compromise.
House Democrat budget
House Democrats released their spending total for the next two-year cycle earlier this week. At $52.5 billion, it is more than previous proposals issued by both the governor and Senate Republicans. While House Democrats are keeping their tax details under wraps until next month, they did confirm to the media their plans to increase taxes despite a $1.6 billion state surplus and $8 billion coming from the federal government.
It is completely tone deaf for anyone to propose raising taxes tax on struggling Minnesotans after all they’ve been through this year, especially when the government is flush with cash.
To top it off, House Democrats confirmed this week they will not take swift action on legislation to correct tax issues with Paycheck Protection Program loans and Unemployment Insurance. Instead, these issues will be treated as bargaining chips and thrown into end-of-session negotiations.
Think about that: A bipartisan PPP relief bill passed the Senate with a veto-proof 55-12 vote earlier this month, but House Democrats are willing to take their sweet time while unemployed workers and desperate businesses suffer unnecessary headaches and expenses. Democrats may claim that PPP/UI relief is a top priority but are wasting time on the floor taking up bills that add expensive and onerous mandates to businesses after an incredibly difficult year. These bills are not moving in the Senate and House Democrats know they won’t be passing this session.
In the meantime, until PPP legislation passes the House, Minnesota will remain the only state in the Upper Midwest skimming tax dollars off emergency forgiven loans provided to businesses by the federal government to keep people on the payroll.
Stay tuned and stay in touch,