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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Steve Green (R)

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Legislative Update (5-14-21

Friday, May 14, 2021

Dear Neighbor, 

Before we get to legislative news, I want to credit the CDC for lifting the mask mandate for those who have been vaccinated, prompting the governor to follow suit in our state. This move is long overdue and I would anticipate answers to any number of questions people may have will be coming soon.

As for House business, the Legislature is set to adjourn on Monday. There is no budget agreement in sight with House Democrats continuing to insist on raising taxes while the state has a massive surplus.

As if that weren’t bad enough, Democrats also are holding relief for struggling businesses and out-of-work Minnesotans hostage as they push for tax increases we don’t need to balance the budget. This could leave hundreds of thousands of families and businesses stuck with tax bills through no fault of their own that they never should have had to pay in the first place. Minnesota businesses continue to wait for the Legislature to eliminate taxes on forgiven Payment Protection Program loans.  

Minnesota remains the only state in the upper Midwest that is imposing taxes on forgiven PPP loans. While the Senate passed bipartisan PPP/UI relief on an overwhelming 55-12 vote, House Democrats have refused to bring forward stand-alone legislation to fix this problem. 

But, instead of focusing on resolving the budget, House Democrats are wasting time on bills that have zero chance of passing into law. For example, they spent last night parading a bill to legalize recreational use of marijuana through the House floor. The bill was approved even though the Senate has indicated this proposal will not advance in that body.  

I guess the House majority can go back to its constituents and say they passed a bill to legalize pot, but that does not help us get a budget done on time as Minnesotans deserve.

A lot can happen in a short amount of time during budget negotiations, so we’ll see what shakes out the next few days. We anticipate working this weekend to see if a solution can be reached, but House Democrats are going to have to take a reality check before any real progress can be made.

On another subject, I have been expressing my concern over the governor’s abuse of executive powers for most of the 14 months he’s had them in place. One area I have major issues with is his ability to spend taxpayer dollars without legislative oversight. Now, the latest reports on spending by the Walz administration from federal COVID relief funds show hundreds of thousands of dollars in wasteful spending — including money to pay off Democrat consultants, “talking circles” abortion doulas, and more.  

Here are just some of the details:

  • Nearly $100,000 to a non-profit which specializes in providing abortion doulas   
  • $12,500 payment to a radio station to broadcast the Governor’s press conferences  
  • $275/hour contract with a New York public relations company  
  • $20,000 per month to Stone Arch Strategies to “provide strategic communications support and services” to the Governor’s Communications Team.  
  • $50,000 to a non-profit to establish talking circles, complete with $20 gift cards to incentivize participation  
  • Nearly $20,000 to a non-profit to recruit volunteers to put together “wellness bundles” including tea and non-traditional health supplements  
  • Contracts to several different entities, each promising to produce videos that will reach tens of thousands of viewers, with YouTube pages that show they reached a tiny fraction of that figure

With this in mind, what do you think will happen if the governor makes unilateral decisions to spend billions of dollars the state is receiving from the federal government? The Legislature needs to be involved in these decisions. For that to happen, the House majority needs to get off its hands instead of continuing to let one person call all the shots. It’s a total lack of leadership by House Democrats and Minnesotans are suffering for it. There is no emergency and the governor’s emergency powers need to end now.

I will be back with more as we see how the end of this session unfolds.  


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