The weather this week has been cloudy and dreary for much of this week. There has been similar dreariness inside the Capitol walls this week as Senate Democrats continue their demand for a gas tax increase.
In contrast to the DFL, House Republicans today held a press conference calling on Gov. Dayton to fund roads and bridges without a gas tax increase. Gov. Dayton and his staff are expected to prepare their first transportation offer this weekend and announce it Monday morning. As House Republicans, we agree with Gov. Dayton when he declared December last year that "a gas tax increase is dead" and we continue to hold the line on a tax increase by funding our 10-year roads and bridges transportation plan without raising taxes.
POLICE BODY CAMS
The increasing attacks we've witnessed in the last several years on the integrity and character of the hard-working men and women in law enforcement is detestable and reprehensible. It seems the mission of some in our society is to undermine law enforcement by spreading lies about police officers and/or inciting violence against police officers. As a result of the persistent undermining by some of the integrity of law enforcement, the unfortunate need for body cams has arisen.
During the course of daily lives we are continually operating in two types of areas:
Most are familiar with police dash cams which film during traffic stops. Police body cams are similar audio/video technology but instead are worn by the police officer and go wherever the police officer goes. Because the dash cam is fixed to the dash board of the squad car the dash cam is not in a position to film in areas where a reasonable expectation of privacy exists. Because the body cam is worn by the police officer, body cams pose new privacy challenges because audio/video footage will be captured where people have a reasonable expectation of privacy.
Capturing audio/video footage inside people’s homes or other areas where people have a reasonable expectation of privacy without having to obtain consent and then storing said footage on servers causes me great concern. It is another example of eroding our liberties. It’s very clear our Founding Fathers believed our homes are to be protected against government intrusion without Due Process unless an exigent circumstance exists, the government obtains a warrant, or the homeowner grants consent.
I anticipate a police body cam bill will come to the House floor next week that will allow body cams to capture audio/video footage inside our homes and then stored on servers, no warrant, no exigent circumstance, and consent needed. Because upholding Fourth Amendment protections against government intrusion is a high priority for me, I will not be supporting the bill.
On Thursday the House passed a bill seeking to bring long overdue reforms to the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB). The IRRRB was formed by the Legislature in 1941 tasked with using millions of dollars raised each year through the Taconite Production Tax to provide loans and grants to businesses, municipalities, and nonprofit organizations on the Iron Range with the goal of creating economic diversity in the region. Over 75 years, the IRRRB has proven its inability to be effective at actually diversifying the Iron Range economy. The bill voted off the House floor seeks to strip the IRRRB of their autonomy to single-handedly determine how the money is spent and instead bring the spending authority to the Legislature thereby increasing accountability. The bill was sent to the Senate but I do not expect action on the bill to increase accountability given the fact the Senate Majority Leader is from the Iron Range.
As always, please contact me with any questions or concerns I may be able to assist you with and please have a blessed weekend!
Rep. Eric Lucero
Albertville, Hanover, Otsego, Saint Michael, and the Wright County portion of Dayton