Lots of activity this week at the Capitol!
Earlier this week Gov. Mark Dayton unilaterally increased the salaries of his state commissioners, in the range of $25,000 to $35,000 apiece. Prior to the new raises, state commissioners were already making salaries well into the six figures. Democrat majorities in the House and Senate along with Dayton passed a new law in 2013 allowing the governor to set salaries for commissioners without legislative approval or public hearings. The total of Gov. Dayton’s new raises are set to cost taxpayers $800,000 per year.
Standing shoulder to shoulder with the advocacy group Concerned Veterans for America, I joined several Republican Senators and Representatives to hold a press conference introducing the “Saluting Service” package. The Saluting Service package is three House/Senate bills aimed at providing veterans increased opportunities to live and work in Minnesota by targeting tax relief, expanding employment opportunities, and strengthening 2nd amendment rights. I am chief author of HF 767 which will allow returning military members and recently-retired veterans who have completed basic training to hunt without obtaining a firearms safety certificate. Current law exempts only those on active duty from obtaining a hunting license without a firearms safety certificate.
The Schools for Equity in Education (SEE) stopped by to discuss Education. I submitted my second bill this week which will help our schools with Disparity Aid.
This week included Transportation Day at the Capital. It was great seeing Saint Michael Council Members Chris Schumm, Nadine Schoen, and Cody Gulick, and Albertville Mayor Jill Hendrickson. We discussed the important transportation goals of our region. I co-authored HF 282 this week which seeks to renew the Corridors of Commerce road and bridges transportation program in the amount of $200 million in fiscal year 2016 and $200 million in fiscal year 2017.
It was great seeing all the pro-life supporters at the MCCL Legislative Dinner this week, including MCCL's Andrea Rau, State Representative Sondra Erickson, and Speaker Kurt Daudt!
Committee Activity Highlights
In the Education Policy Committee this week, we heard HF 2 which seeks to change three areas of education policy: Teacher Licensure, Teacher Retention, and Teacher Evaluation, allowing flexibility and local control to school boards, superintendents, and principals. I voted in favor and the bill was sent to its next stop to be heard in the Education Finance Committee.
We also heard HF 500 of which I am co-author. This bill to help ensure greater protection of our children by expanding the list of felonies the Board of Teaching or Board of School administrators can automatically revoke, refuse to renew, or refuse to issue a teaching license. I voted in favor and the bill was send to the Education Finance Committee.
Under both Federal and Minnesota law, it is currently legal for a Minnesotan to buy a rifle or shotgun in any state. Unfortunately, Minnesota State law is confusing to read because current Minnesota law is based on a Federal law which changed 29 years ago. Because the language of the Minnesota State law is obsolete and confusing for licensed gun dealers to read, I am the chief author of HF 830 which will make the law clear to read and ensure law abiding Minnesotans can exercise their constitutional rights to purchase long guns in any state.
Ban "Emergency" Orders for Gun Confiscation
After Hurricane Katrina, police in Louisiana confiscated the self defense firearms of law abiding citizens. I have co-authored HF 722 to prevent the same thing from happening in Minnesota during a state of emergency issued by the governor relating to a public disorder or disaster.
Protecting the unborn
I have co-authored HF 734, which seeks to tighten restrictions around administering and using RU-486 (mifepristone) or any drug or chemical is used for the purpose of inducing an abortion.
I will keep you up to speed as these and other issues develop in St. Paul. As always, your input is welcome.