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Legislative Update (4-23-21)

Friday, April 23, 2021

Neighbor, 

House Democrats have continued to bring their omnibus finance bills to the floor for votes this week. The majority has stifled much of the debate, baselessly ruling amendment after amendment from the minority out of order and sparing themselves from difficult votes. 

While this poor example of legislative conduct is an embarrassment to our institution, most of the bad ideas House Democrats are throwing at the wall shouldn’t stick. Their bills are likely to undergo massive makeovers by conference committees that will work to put bills in shape for votes on final approval. Senate Republicans are taking a far better approach to the budget and I sincerely hope their positions prevail. 

We can start with the fact House Democrats should stand little chance of getting their way on raising taxes by billions of dollars at a time the state has a historic increase. The $1.6 billion tax/fee increase over four years in their transportation bill and their $1 billion tax increase in their tax bill should be non-starters in budget negotiations. We should be helping businesses and families get back on their feet instead of making their road to recovery even more challenging with more unnecessary state taxes and regulations. 

The House Democrats’ tax bill is so bad the majority itself didn’t even provide full support and it scraped by with the bare minimum votes. We could get into the details of why various provisions are bad (such as how the bill allows the state to profit off forgiven loans struggling businesses received from the federal government) but let’s just stay with the main point: There is no reason to raise taxes on Minnesotans when the state has a historic surplus. 

The omnibus bill related to the environment also includes a number of concerning provisions. It raises fees on businesses and recreational activities by $20 million over the next two years at a time the state has a massive budget surplus. The bill also brings California’s excessive auto regulations to Minnesota and cedes our power on this issue to bureaucrats in Sacramento. And it gives more power to Minnesota Pollution Control Agency bureaucrats to enforce new environmental permitting regulations and enforcement authority that will crush businesses and result in many leaving the state.

The MPCA issue is a major problem for me. I have a great appreciation for our environment and the natural resources we are blessed to share in our state. I also have the utmost respect for the constitutional liberties we enjoy as citizens of this state and honor the taxpayer dollar. This bill tramples on both of the latter, especially the lack of accountability this proposal would lead to in regard to the MPCA.

Each of the Democrats’ omnibus finance bills are receiving approval mainly along party lines. There is no bipartisan support to speak of on any of them and the majority has done next to nothing to involve the minority in this process. This means the bills the majority has approved so far are largely for show and, now that they have jumped through these hoops to highlight their extreme positions, we can get serious about working on real budget solutions to help Minnesotans get back on track after a year of setbacks caused by the pandemic and the governor’s restrictions placed on workers.

Until next time, have a good weekend.

-Steve 

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