Before we get to the latest news from the Capitol, I want to pass along word of a town hall meeting I will be co-hosting with Rep. Matt Grossell and Sen. Paul Utke 6 p.m., Wednesday, April 17 at the Great Northern Bar and Grill in Bagley. This event will give us a chance to talk about the session’s major issues as we head into the final stretch of the 2019 session. Hope to see you there and we look forward to receiving good input.
As for business in St. Paul, Democrats spent much of this week talking about raising our gas tax by 70 percent and providing driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants. As much as I object to those ideas, my opposition pales in comparison to another ill-advised push by Democrats to allow murderers and pedophiles to work with our most vulnerable citizens.
I wish it were some kind of April Fool’s joke, but it’s not. On Monday, House Democrats passed on a party-line vote a bill allowing individuals convicted of murder, drive-by-shooting, felony-level stalking, child abuse, and solicitation of children to engage in sexual conduct to work in numerous positions that require Department of Human Services (DHS) background studies. This includes working as personal care attendants (PCAs), providers of home and community-based care services for Minnesotans with disabilities, adult day services, non-emergency medical transportation drivers and more.
The bill (HF2265) would require DHS to consider granting a variance to anyone who otherwise would have been disqualified as a result of a variety of serious felony and criminal convictions that are more than 20 years old. There is no rehabilitation requirement included.
There is no amount of explaining the Democrats can do to hide the fact the bill they voted for puts people who have conducted the most heinous crimes imaginable in close contact with our most vulnerable citizens. This bill is a bad idea and really reflects poorly on the Democrats’ priorities this session. What a giant step backward.
Speaking of misguided Democrat priorities, they revealed the details of their transportation proposal for the new two-year state budget this week, including an increase of 20 cents per gallon to the state gas tax. This is completely unnecessary, something House Republicans proved during the last biennium when we made a significant in transportation by dedicating sales taxes already paid on the purchases of auto parts toward roads and bridges.
The Senate Republican majority is following that path, proposing an approach which invests in roads and bridges using the tax dollars Minnesotans are already paying. With a $1 billion surplus, dollars are available without taking more from taxpayers.
Look for more news from the Capitol soon. The governor will deliver his State of the State Address tonight in the House Chamber, so it will be interesting to hear what themes he centers on as budget work is just beginning to get serious.