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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Cal Bahr (R)

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Friday, January 8, 2021

So it begins again. The 2021 Legislative Session convened on Tuesday this week and, as Gideon Tucker pointed out in 1866, "No man's life, liberty or property are safe while the Legislature is in session."

Swearing In Looked A Bit Different

If you have watched any of the Special Sessions, you may have noticed a very empty House floor during votes. Unfortunately, the Speaker has limited participation from the floor to only a few select members. Everyone else must participate remotely - either from their office or from home. Even our Oath of Office took place - nine people at a time - via Zoom. Yes, I still take my oath seriously, but I gave up our Caucus' single seat on the House floor to our newest member, Rep. Erik Mortenson, for his first session. And I will continue to highlight the stranglehold the current leadership has on open and transparent government. Not only is the elected members' access to the floor limited, but no member of the staff or public is allowed to be present in person during sessions. The halls of your government are literally locked. Any members of the public who wish to address their Representative, must do so electronically or literally be escorted into the building by appointment only and then escorted back out.

This is not how it should be and if you are able to shop for necessities at the local grocery store, you should be able to bring up what is necessary with your elected officials.


Rep. Bahr being sworn in


New Committee, Same Issues

Since re-election, I have new committee assignments: Transportation Policy & Finance, Commerce, and Rules & Legislative Administration. The only committee to meet this week was Rules - a required stop for any floor action. You may already know that one of my chief areas of focus since I arrived in St. Paul is "Single Subject" Legislation. It is the most basic level of transparency in government and accountability to the voters. Omnibus bills - and omnibus omnibus bills - bury pet projects, pork-barrel funding, and unrelated policy together in legislation so bloated and immense that no member of the public - or legislator - could possibly read all the language before voting. And the arm-twisting to buy votes with desired projects while attaching objectionable policies in games of 'gotcha politics' is simply abhorrent.

In our very first committee hearing, we discussed the 'temporary rules of the house' - the forerunner of the Permanent Rules of the House - and I brought forward an amendment that would completely prevent finance or revenue bills from being combined into only a few giant omnibus bills. While the democrat majority on the committee voted down the amendment, we were able to get every member present on the record to whether they support true transparency in government.

You can see that discussion here: A4 amendment discussion in Rules.

Government of the People, By the People

This past summer, we saw people who believed themselves to be disenfranchised take to the streets. This week, we witnessed a very different group of people, who also believe themselves to be disenfranchised, take to the streets in DC.  Both of these groups have something in common - their government is not a government of the people, by the people, for the people.  While both groups have very different views of what the role of government should be, the root of their distress is the same - they don't think anyone in positions of authority is listening.

As I sit in St. Paul and listen to debates, there is a continual undertone that permeates most discussions and a lot of buzz words and phrases: democracy, living constitution, government is the solution to all your problems. All of these are just wrong. We are a Republic (as different from a democracy as night is from day); 'living constitution' is an oxymoron; and government's only real power is to break things and kill people. People responding to needs around them and helping their neighbor is what makes a community. That is much easier when the government isn't stealing the resources and putting road blocks in the way.  

We are at a point in history, where we, as a people need to choose. Will our government take the last couple steps and slide into a complete socialist democracy? Or will WE take a hard look at what, We the People, want the role of government to be?  Do we want a Constitutional government?  A government that is restrained? Or will we allow a government that is big enough to give you everything you want and powerful enough to take everything you have?

Choose Freedom,


Cal Bahr
State Representative, 31B

Coming up Next Week

  • Commerce and Transportation Committees will both hold their first meetings of the session. Those meetings are all streamed live through House media.
  • On Thursday, it is expected that we'll be discussing the Permanent Rules of the House - and expect that to be a long and contentious debate.


If you have any questions regarding COVID-19, please don’t hesitate to contact me or my office. We are still attempting to provide regular contact remotely so if you have other needs, please email my Legislative Assistant, Barbara, at

Watch the Minnesota House on Public TV

Video: Streaming Website. Also you can watch committees and Floor Sessions on YouTube.