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

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Legislative update

Friday, March 11, 2022

Dear Neighbor,

Greetings from the House as we wrap up another busy week in the Legislature and brace for the growing probability a tax increase will be placed on employers Tuesday despite the fact Minnesota has a $9.3 billion surplus.

A bipartisan bill to repay the unemployment insurance trust fund is still being held back by the House majority, even though it's supported by Gov. Walz, House Republicans, Senate Republicans, and most Senate Democrats. This bill passed the Senate weeks ago on a bipartisan, veto-proof vote but the House majority has not yet allowed it to come to the House floor.

House Republicans made a move to declare urgency on the issue and bring legislation to fix this problem to the floor for a vote this week, but House Democrats blocked that effort. Unfortunately, it is becoming more likely the Tuesday deadline to stop this tax increase will not be met due to the majority’s resistance.

Working to improve public safety

House Republicans recently issued a package of bills aimed at improving public safety amid soaring violent crime rates in Minnesota.

The package focuses on three key areas: crime prevention and accountability for criminals; police recruitment and retention; and holding the criminal justice system accountable.

Our government’s top responsibility is to keep its citizens safe, and our state has been failing miserably in that regard, Failed leadership and a criminal justice system that all too often goes soft on perpetrators have only emboldened violent criminals. This is heightening concerns for Minnesotans who, at the very least, deserve to feel safe on the streets of our cities.

A spike in carjacking rates may be the most glaring example of why action is needed. Minneapolis police reported 655 carjackings last year alone – with only 91 related arrests. A measure in the House Republican public safety plan makes carjacking a new criminal offense with increasing penalties for the level of violence.

Minnesota also must ensure local law enforcement agencies have enough officers on patrol, and that they have the resources they need to do their jobs. House Republicans are offering legislation to bolster law enforcement recruitment numerous ways, including providing education reimbursements and Pathways to Policing program funding.

The demonization of police in our state has contributed to a record number of peace officers leaving their posts and fewer new recruits joining the force. The anti-police rhetoric needs to stop, and we need to change the narrative toward making sure our officers have the resources and support they need to keep us safe.

Data shows that judges statewide are departing from the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines at a troubling rate and issuing lesser sentences for more violent criminals. House Republicans have authored several bills on this subject to increase transparency and to help us better understand why our criminal justice system continues to allow violent criminals to slip through the cracks.

Until next time, have a good weekend and, as always, please stay in touch.