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

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Legislative News from Rep. Peggy Bennett

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Hello from the State Capitol,


News surrounding unemployment insurance dominated the headlines at the Capitol this week, and not in a good way.



Tuesday’s deadline to prevent unnecessary tax increases on every employer in the state has come and gone, and the House majority is solely to blame for the upcoming financial pain local employers are going to experience.


Minnesota needed to replenish its Unemployment Insurance (UI) Trust Fund by more than $1 billion before March 15, according to Governor Walz’s employment commissioner. With a $9.3 billion state surplus and more than $1 billion in federal COVID relief funds, our state can easily remedy this unfair 15% or more tax increase on local employers.


Minnesota employers were put into this predicament due to no fault of their own.  Governor Walz forced many businesses, especially small ones, to shut down during the pandemic.  This caused the UI account to run dry.  Employers were promised that they would not be penalized for the Governor’s actions and now they are being penalized. 


The Minnesota Senate did take action by approving a full UI repayment bill with an overwhelming 55-11 bipartisan vote. In the other chamber, the House Democrat majority has refused to do anything. Before the deadline, House Republicans twice tried to move legislation that would have prevented these tax increases, but in both cases House Democrats blocked them from debate.

It’s pretty disappointing to see one caucus slow progress to a stop because it wants to play political games, but that’s exactly what’s happened. Minnesota’s job providers are now being used as political pawns by House Democrats, and because of this, they must now begin preparing for major tax increases.



Speaking of unemployment insurance, Minnesota’s legislative auditor shared some troubling news regarding fraud, and the reporting of that fraud, within the program this week.


According to the report, during Fiscal Year 2021, the UI Division received nearly 24,000 fraud allegation reports from the public, most alleging an imposter applied for benefits using a stolen identity. in June 2021 alone, the division stopped payments on about 2,500 suspicious accounts—more than one-third of all new accounts opened that month. Yet over the past several years, only a couple of dozen fraud cases have ever been referred to law enforcement. 


Clearly changes need to be made, as state law does not explicitly require DEED to report information about fraud in the UI program to the Minnesota Legislature. Minnesotans have the right to know that criminals are being punished and taxpayer dollars are being protected.



House Republicans held a news conference recently to unveil our 2022 public safety priorities. The package focused on three key areas; crime prevention and accountability for criminals; police recruitment and retention and holding the criminal justice system accountable. 


The package recognizes that law enforcement is the major part of the public safety solution. Despite what some radicals believe, police are not the enemy. These are people who put their lives on the line every day to ensure our safety. Common sense tells me defunding the police will not make crimes decrease. Encouraging more men and women to pursue a career in law enforcement while ensuring stronger sentences for violent criminals will help.



Rep. Patty Mueller and I had a wonderful time chatting with the local Freeborn-Mower Electric Coop board of directors over dinner in St. Paul Wednesday evening.

I always enjoy discussing local issues and learning more about the power industry from these great “boots on the ground” people!


Have a good weekend,