Hope you are staying warm this bitterly cold week. Please check on people who may be vulnerable to these low temperatures and take extra care to keep pets safe. As for legislative news, here is a rundown of some recent headlines:
LOCAL CONTROL FOR SCHOOLS
While the governor’s restrictions have greatly impacted many people’s ability to work and make a living in recent months, our children also have been suffering ill effects. Students and families are being devastated by distance learning and it is hindering academic achievement, damaging mental health, and more.
As House Republicans continue offering solutions to help workers, this week we attempted to fast-track a bill providing more local control to do what’s best for our kids. The bill would take away Gov. Walz’s powers to unilaterally close schools, ensuring that reopening decisions are handled at the local level by school board members, district officials, teachers, and parents.
The science and data show we can safely get our students back in the classroom. Even President Biden’s CDC director has said multiple times that we could safely return to in-person learning before all teachers are vaccinated.
This bill simply would prevent the governor from overreaching and keeping schools closed longer than they need to be. We trust our local school boards, administrators, parents, and teachers to work collaboratively and make decisions that are in the best interest of the district.
House Republicans made a motion to bring urgency to this issue and bring the bill to the floor on Thursday but, unfortunately, the majority blocked that effort.
On Wednesday, Minnesota Management and Budget released the January revenue report showing $296 million more in tax collections than previously expected. Net receipts from the individual income, sales, and corporate taxes were above the forecast, while net other tax receipts matched the forecast.
This is further evidence our economy did not go in the tank as once feared and our modest shortfall continues to shrink. The February forecast will provide a complete set of details to sift through in preparation to set a new two-year budget but, at the very least, this revenue trend should cause the governor to nix the $1.7 billion tax increase he proposes.
A House resolution to terminate the governor’s peacetime emergency powers again was offered this week. It was the 11th time House Republicans have sought to end the longest peacetime emergency in state history in order to restore the legislature's role as a co-equal branch of government. Once again, the majority blocked this effort.
Gov. Walz is pushing to bring California’s restrictions on auto emissions to our state. I touched on this in a recent email and in a column I submitted to area newspapers. Public awareness seems to be lacking on this issue, largely because the governor is pushing this plan through the administrative rulemaking process instead of bringing it through the Legislature for a full set of public hearings. This means we need to take advantage of other methods to weigh in on this issue. Input can be provided at the Office of Administrative Hearings website, or by submitting testimony at public video hearings scheduled for 3 p.m. both Feb. 22 and 23. Links to attend the online events can be found here.
Until next time, take care, think warm thoughts and stay in touch.