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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Peggy Bennett (R)

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Legislaive News from Rep. Peggy Bennett

Friday, March 12, 2021

Dear Friends,
International Women's Day, the one-year anniversary of one-person rule in Minnesota, and a deadline to make your voice heard regarding the implementation of controversial California Car Emissions standards in Minnesota were among the highlights and lowlights at the Capitol this week.
It might be difficult for many of our daughters and granddaughters to believe, but most of the opportunities that girls and women have today did not exist more than 50 to 100 years ago.
Some examples: women couldn't vote; they could be fired from their job if they became pregnant; they couldn't have a career in the military; couldn't serve on a jury; couldn't work at night; and if they did work, in some cases had to hand over their earnings to their husbands!
A lot has changed for women in our country over the last century!
This last week, we celebrated International Women's Day, where we recognized the contributions of women around the world. This year's theme is Women in Leadership.
We have many amazing women serving in our state legislature.  The first four women to serve in the Minnesota House did so in 1922. Today, 51 of the 134 members of the Minnesota House of Representatives are female.  These are incredible women who lead in their communities and were elected by those communities to serve as state leaders. They live in all corners of our state and have backgrounds in many differing professions: from business owners and doctors to teachers and farmers.
I believe there are great advantages to having a balance of men and women in the leadership. Each brings important perspectives and life stories to the table. As a legislature and as a state, we are stronger when both men and women are leading.
Women have come a long way in our state and country. I am greatly concerned, however, that these long fought for gains will be jeopardized with legislation that is moving in both the Minnesota House and in Congress.
The Equality Act, a proposition being pushed forward by Democrats, would make changes to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes in the same way that it does for race. The supporters of this proposed constitutional amendment call for all human beings to be treated with respect and dignity - something I think we can all agree upon.  But in reality, this legislation would reverse those very things for women. The Equality Act would be far from "equal" for women.
Women's sports would be changed forever. Among other requirements, this law would mandate that biological boys and men who identify as women must be allowed to compete in girls' and women's sports, sleep in the same rooms for sports overnighters, and shower and dress alongside girls.
There is a reason why women fought hard to have their own sports in high school, college, and beyond, and for the scholarships and advantages that come with those sports. There are very real physical and biological differences that give males a distinct physical advantage over females. Placing male and female bodies together in physical competition often creates an unequal disadvantage for women.
We witnessed a good example of this a few years ago in Connecticut where two males who identified as female easily won first and second place in the girls' track and field state championship. The girls competing in those races not only lost out on all of the hard work they put into their sport, but may have very well lost out on college scholarship opportunities as well.
Not only women's sports would be impacted by the Equality Act. Women in battered women shelters would be forced to sleep, dress, and shower alongside biological males and women's prisons would be required to do the same. Basically, if this bill passes, it would make it illegal to provide any private or exclusive spaces for only women.
Where are the rights for girls and women in all this? When one group is given a right it sometimes takes away another group's rights. Government has to be very careful where it treads here. I fully support that ALL people be treated respectfully and with dignity, including our LGBTQ neighbors, but this law goes too far and tramples on the rights, dignity, and uniqueness of women.
As a woman in the legislature, I have always felt welcomed and empowered by both the men and women who work at the Capitol. It has been an honor to serve my area, first as a teacher and now as a lawmaker. Women have come a long way over the past 100 years, and it is important as legislators that we ensure any proposals we consider help women continue to move forward, and not force them to take steps backward.
Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of living under Governor Walz's emergency powers, executive orders, and unilateral decision making surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic; one year of the Legislature - your voice - being left out of the Covid-19 decision-making process. It's a troublesome milestone.
House Republicans voted 3 times this week - for the 15th time overall - to end the Governor's emergency powers and bring the Legislature back into its rightful position as a co-equal branch of government. But the House Democratic majority refuses to return any power to the Legislature. This despite the fact that nearly 70% of Minnesota's senior citizens - the group most at risk for COVID-19 problems - have received the vaccine, and that vaccine access itself has expanded in our state.
We've learned a lot in a year about COVID-19. Common sense tells us the emergency phase of this pandemic has ended.  Governor Walz's emergency powers should end as well.
In January, I made a post informing you of the "California Cars Mandate" rule making process that the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) had begun under the Governor's direction.  The MPCA's work has been continuing on this. This mandate would tie Minnesota to California vehicle emission rules both now and in the future. I wanted to let you know that the comment period for this rule making will end on Monday.  I will put a link to the comment page below for those of you who would like to give input.
Some Minnesotans support this rule making because they believe it will lead to a cleaner environment.  Others, including me, do not believe it will make any significant improvements to our environment and will have many negative consequences on Minnesota families.  Here are my concerns:
FIRST, the Governor and MPCA are circumventing the legislature with this rule making and attempting to force a very controversial mandate through executive rule.  This leaves out the transparent legislative committee hearing process and debate where Minnesotans can testify with agreement or concerns, and it leaves out community voices that are heard through their local legislator and his/her vote.  I believe circumventing the legislature with such a controversial and serious mandate is very wrong.
SECOND, why would we put our air quality emission rules under the jurisdiction of California or any other state?  Minnesota should be in charge of it's own air quality rules through our own legislature.  Not only will the Governor and MPCA tie our state to these current California "clean car" mandates, but it will give California the power to dictate what Minnesota does in the future by making our state subject to future actions of a California air quality board. 
THIRD, this mandate will drive up the costs of all new vehicles in Minnesota and basically dictate what kind of cars Minnesotans can drive by forcing fuel mileage standards.  It would also force Minnesota auto dealers to carry certain vehicles on their lots, regardless of whether demand for those vehicles exists. Can you imagine the affect this will have on our border car dealerships in southern Minnesota where the customer can simply drive to Iowa and save hundreds if not thousands of dollars on the same vehicle?
LASTLY, while the California Car Mandate would raise the costs of vehicles sold in Minnesota and attempt to force Minnesotans into smaller and/or electric vehicles, it would have basically a zero measurable impact on the environment.  Supporters of this measure tell us these rules would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 2 million tons per year. This sounds like a lot until you examine it in the context of the world's current global emissions - 36 BILLION tons in 2019. This family-harmful mandate would reduce about 0.01% of the global total emissions.
We should always be looking at common sense proposals that lessen pollution while being smart for the consumer. Unfortunately, putting an unelected California board in charge of Minnesota's automobile policies accomplishes neither of these priorities. Click here to make your voice heard.
Have a good weekend,