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Legislative Update (2-12-21)

Friday, February 12, 2021

Neighbor, 

Greetings from the House, where this week we received a report showing the state’s general fund revenues totaled $2.403 billion in January, $296 million (14.1 percent) more than forecast. Net receipts from the individual income, sales, and corporate taxes were above the forecast, while net other tax receipts matched the forecast. 

As we await a complete set of economic details to be provided in the February forecast, this latest news reiterates the governor’s proposal to raise taxes by $1.7 billion is unnecessary and out of touch with reality. As I noted in a recent email, people already are hurting financially in large part because of shutdowns the governor placed on our workers. He should not be looking to squeeze more tax dollars out of them. 

In other news, House Republicans this week attempted to bring to the House floor a bill which takes away Gov. Walz’s powers to unilaterally close schools, ensuring that reopening decisions are handled at the local level by school board members, district officials, teachers, and parents. 

The science and data show we can safely get our students back in the classroom. Even President Biden’s CDC director has said multiple times that we could safely return to in-person learning before all teachers are vaccinated. 

Our bill simply would prevent the governor from overreaching and keeping schools closed longer than they need to be. We trust our local school boards, administrators, parents, and teachers to work together and make decisions that are in the best interest of the district.  Unfortunately, the House Democrats blocked a motion to declare urgency and bring this bill to the floor Thursday.

In another recent email I mentioned that Gov. Walz is pushing to bring California’s restrictions on auto emissions to our state. He is making this move through the administrative rulemaking process, bypassing the legislative process and flying under the radar so far. There does not seem to be enough public awareness on this issue, making it even more important for people to take advantage of what few opportunities there are to register comments.  

You can do so at the Office of Administrative Hearings website until the March 15 deadline, or by submitting testimony at public video hearings scheduled for 3 p.m. on both Feb. 22 and 23. Links to attend the online events can be found here. Whether you submit a written comment or give testimony at a public hearing, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency indicates your feedback will be considered equally.

On a final note, a ton of emails are still coming in regarding a bill (HF604) I oppose which puts the governor’s mask mandate into state statute indefinitely and puts the federal government – not legislators, the governor or anyone else from Minnesota – in charge of determining when it ends, even if the data here in our state suggests that the mandate could be lifted. Also, large fines could be levied on businesses who fail to enforce the mandate.

While this bill received a hearing this week, no formal action was taken. For now, it remains set aside for possible further consideration at another date.

Sincerely, 

Steve 

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