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

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Monday, April 19, 2021

Into the Weekend Work

On Saturday, the House heard 7 hours of discussion on the Transportation Omnibus Bill. This bill is packed with $1.6 billion in tax increases including new fees for Tabs, a new automatic gas tax, and other increases for public transportation. You have heard my objections many times that the practice of multi-subject bills is unconstitutional and every bill should be one subject; passing on the merits of the idea itself. Instead we have a heavily partisan process which pits one side against the other and encourages bad policy. The Democrat’s transportation bill even includes a provision to issue driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants. It also increase taxes by $1.6 billion over four years including:

  • Bypasses legislative authority and automatically increases gas taxes through the Transportation Commissioner adjusted annually on October 1.
  • Increases the motor vehicle sales tax on vehicle purchases from the current 6.5-percent to the new 6.875-percent.
  • Increases Metro Area sales tax .5-percent to raise over $916 million in new sales taxes to be spent on non-automobile transit within the seven-county metro.

And it takes all the massive increase in dollars and spends them on priorities already shown to not be where you and I would put any investment whatsoever, including (among MANY others):

  • Passenger Rail: $3,500,000 over the next two years for the final design and construction of a second daily Amtrak train service between Minneapolis and St. Paul and Chicago
  • Electric Vehicle Infrastructure: Almost $3,000,000 in the next two years and creates the electric vehicle infrastructure account as a special revenue fund for electric vehicle infrastructure development.
  • Rondo Land Bridge: $6,200,000 for a grant to "ReConnect Rondo" for project development of the Rondo Land Bridge freeway lid over marked Interstate Highway 94 in a portion of the segment from Lexington Avenue to Rice Street in St. Paul.

That last one meant a LOT of testimony in committee on the massive destruction caused by the construction of Interstate 94 - moving presentations on the targeted elimination of generational businesses and lives of a minority population in St. Paul. Thus, they now want to spend over $6 million dollars to attempt to 'rejoin' a community many decades later without any recognition of what caused the problem in the first place - unchecked power at the hands of the government through the use of Eminent Domain. I offered an amendment on the House floor to attempt to correct that so that no future group of Minnesotans would face mass condemnation of their lives' work with no recourse. You can hear the discussion of this amendment here: Bahr Eminent Domain Amendment

Additionally, during a marathon floor session on Friday that lasted past 11pm, the DFL passed a MASSIVE State Government Operations bill. We basically spent 12 hours discussing a bill that provides funding to a extravagant list of organizations and aims to provide some of the "police reform" changes the DFL are pushing - so much time on provisions that they won't be able to adequately justify to Republican leadership in the Senate.

Previously, on Thursday, the Democrat majority passed their Housing Omnibus Bill. The availability of quality, affordable housing is important to me. Unfortunately, the bill offers zero solutions toward addressing the factors causing home-ownership to be un-affordable for too many families. Instead, provisions in the bill remove local control and further impose more government mandates. We need Republicans to continue to focus on finding solutions for the shortage of market-rate housing, the high cost of developing housing, and making it easier for Minnesotans to achieve the dream of owning their own home.

One Year of a House Failing to Act

Also on Thursday was the anniversary of our FIRST vote to attempt to end Gov Walz's Emergency Powers.

Four other Republican lawmakers and I introduced HC8, the State's first-ever binding resolution to end a Governor's declaration of peacetime emergency. Sadly, only eight other Republicans would join us with hands to request a vote to end the Governor's powers less than a month after he assumed this unconstitutional power. We have since voted nearly 20 times to end the emergency powers and had a half dozen Democrats voting with us until we needed only a simple majority to end them when the regular session started. House 'management' has since reined in the renegade Democrats. Let me remind you of what we said back then - which has all turned out to be true: Floor Debate on Emergency Powers One Year Ago.

Still Looking to the Future

Last week, two different legislators tried to amend Chapter 12 reform (the statute that gives the Governor the authority to declare an emergency) to that Government Operations Omnibus bill.  The two versions were quite different, but both were ruled out of order by the Speaker.  This procedural move prevented an actual vote on either of them and precluded any accountability from legislators.

Earlier in the week, another legislator proposed a change to the State Constitution that would revise the Governor's authority in regard to emergency powers authorization. That would have put a Constitutional Amendment on the ballot for all Minnesotans. If approved by the voters, the following language would have been added to the State Constitution:

The governor may declare an emergency that shall last for a period of seven days unless an extension is authorized by the legislature. Before the seven days lapse, the legislature may authorize the governor to continue the emergency declaration if the governor requests the emergency declaration continue beyond the seven days. If the legislature is not sitting in session, the governor must issue a call immediately convening both houses of the legislature. Both houses of the legislature must approve by a majority vote a continuation of the governor's emergency declaration for up to 30 days. A majority "no" vote from either house means the emergency declaration ends when the seven days have lapsed. If the legislature approves the extension of the emergency declaration for up to 30 days and the governor requests another extension beyond that time, the governor must issue a call convening both houses of the legislature if the legislature is not sitting in session before the additional time period under the emergency declaration lapses. In order to extend the emergency declaration, both houses must approve the continuation of the emergency declaration for up to 30 days. A majority "no" vote in either house means the emergency declaration ends at the end of the 30-day extension.

This was voted down on a straight party line vote. If you want to hear this committee discussion, you can watch the video clip here: Rep. Green's Chapter 12 Reform language in Rules Committee.

The lack of respect for the citizens of the State of Minnesota is on display for all to see. One part of our government believes it is their duty to protect the citizenry from themselves by micromanaging every detail of peoples lives; what activities you may do, what stores you will be allowed to shop at, when and where you will be allowed to worship, etc...  Another part of our government believes their role is to provide information to the citizenry and let people be free to choose their own path.  The fact that this amendment question was not allowed out of committee, demonstrates how far we have come from being a self governing people.  When the government won't give the people the chance to choose their own path, we are no longer free.


Choose Freedom,


Cal Bahr
State Representative, 31B

Coming up Next Week

  • MORE Omnibus budget bills... many more hours of discussion on the House Floor.
  • I have received a lot of calls and emails from my community about HF 604 - the mask mandate. Let me assure you that I do not support the mandatory wearing of masks and will be voting against any bill that would require you to wear one.


We are still attempting to provide regular contact remotely regardless of our COVID-19 restrictions so If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us - please email my Legislative Assistant, Barbara, at

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