In just the last handful of days, House Democrats have approved bills to fund a pay raise for legislators, cut nursing homes by $68 million, raise taxes by $12 billion over four years, raise the gas tax by 70 percent, increase health care costs and infringe on our gun rights.
House Democrats approved their transportation bill (H.F. 1555) which increases the gas tax by 20 cents per gallon – a 70-percent increase – and in total raises taxes by more than $4 billion over four years with other increases to the vehicle registration tax, the metro sales tax, and a new-vehicle sales tax.
The gas tax hurts low- and middle-income earners and Greater Minnesota residents the most. Raising it another 20 cents is a non-starter for me. There also is a troubling amount of waste, fraud and abuse that could be trimmed in our state to make sure we are making the most of the tax dollars citizens already are paying instead of just going back to shake them down for more.
We can improve our roads and bridges without tax increases if we hold it up as the priority people say it is. We did exactly that during the last biennium, providing more for transportation by directing the existing sales taxes already paid on the purchases of auto parts to roads and bridges.
Democrats also approved their public safety omnibus bill (H.F. 2792) with two highly controversial gun control bills included, expanding background checks and allowing court-ordered firearms seizures.
Neither of the provisions will save lives because criminals don’t ask for permission to use a gun. These measures would only place new government restrictions on those of us who are responsible gun owners who abide by the law and chip away at our Second Amendment rights. I strongly oppose these proposals.
One of the measures places new burdens on gun owners and creates several new restrictive requirements, including background checks, on the private transfer of firearms. It also only allows one firearm per permit to purchase, which expires after 30 days, and imposes a requirement for private parties to keep records in perpetuity. Even transfers between friends would require individuals to pay a fee, and individuals would be guilty of a gross misdemeanor if they misplaced transfer paperwork and were unable to produce it to authorities.
The other measure implements a so-called “red-flag” law by permitting the removal of a person’s firearms if a court grants an order for an extreme risk protection order. This could be done through an ex-parte process where the accused is not present to offer a counter to the accusation, raising due process concerns among lawmakers. Under the proposal, law enforcement would be responsible for delivering the order and executing the firearm seizure without the accused knowing an accusation has been made against them.
Our state already conducts background checks and these new layers will do more to make unwitting criminals out of friends and family than anything else. And the red flag proposal treats people as guilty until proven innocent, which goes against the principles of our legal system. It also puts our law enforcement in harm's way by expecting them to seize guns from people who may not even be aware they have had a seizure levied against them.
Democrats approved their omnibus tax bill (H.F. 2125) as part of their plan to raise taxes on Minnesotans by over $12 billion during the next four years. The tax bill itself includes $3 billion in tax increases that disproportionately impact middle- and lower-income Minnesotans and burden businesses.
It goes without saying, but I voted against each of these bills. Let’s hope they get significantly better before we see them again for votes on final approval.