I hope you all had a wonderful Mother's Day!
Today is Statehood Day. On this day in 1858, Minnesota became the 32nd state in the Union after being approved by President James Buchanan.
Tuesday's budget forecast, showing a $3.6 billion drop in revenue is not a surprise, given the Governor's executive orders denied nearly a million Minnesotans the freedom to work and earn a living.
When you prevent people from earning, you lose income, payroll, and sales taxes. Nearly 16% of Minnesotans are unemployed, conversely, South Dakota, which never shut down, has only a 7.2% unemployment rate. Furthermore, South Dakota has seen their sales tax revenues increase by 4.5% from the same period last year. Here in Minnesota, we have seen our sales tax revenues decrease by 11.2%. South Dakota is far better prepared to face any budget issues that come their way because they did not shut off their economy. South Dakota also has a lower COVID death per million count than Minnesota. We should follow their lead.
Unfortunately, the loss of tax revenue has not stopped the Minnesota government from spending like crazy, though. Earlier this week, I voted to table a large spending bill to wait one day to see the budget forecast. One would think this would be fiscally responsible, yet, this motion was rejected by the House majority. As Minnesota families are reviewing their discretionary spending, so too should the legislature.
It is also time we revisit policy changes for those most impacted by the Governor's orders, such as eliminating the board of cosmetology which over-regulates our hair salon workers, or eliminating income tax on tips for our wait staff at bars and restaurants. Yesterday, I introduced the 'Minnesota Food Freedom Act' which will eliminate the cap on Minnesota's homemade foods businesses. This bill addresses weaknesses in our food supply chain and would allow our hard hit farmers to sell direct to the public and hopefully open up opportunities for livestock and dairy farmers.
I have been arguing for weeks that our hospitals were prepared and nearly empty, causing clinics to close and tens of thousands of healthcare workers to be laid off and furloughed. I have been greatly concerned for the many people facing non-COVID health concerns and am grateful the Governor has relaxed the prohibition on elective surgery, allowing patients to finally seek life saving checkups and screenings, as well as, elective surgeries to reduce pain. I am happy doctors, dentists and veterinarians can now practice without the government rationing care. This is a step in the right direction.
Last Monday during session, I introduced an amendment that would allow for free and fair elections, as well as protect from having to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money on special elections.My amendment would prevent an incumbent from withdrawing at the last minute in order to allow his or her chosen successor to file for office without opposition. If this had become law, the incumbents’ filing period would end 3 days earlier than for challengers. If an incumbent withdrew, the filing period would be extended for one day.
Many schools had plans already in place to hold OUTDOOR graduations on football fields where all graduates and family members were spaced 6-10 feet apart. Unfortunately, the Minnesota Department of Education sent a letter to schools this week, forbidding such plans. I have been contacted by parents and school board members from many districts across MN who were extremely upset by what they viewed to be an irrational and overreaching mandate.
These young adults are graduating into a workforce where unemployment is expected to reach 30% in Minnesota - HIGHER than the Great Depression. They understand how to socially distance. They want to see their friends from six feet away, before everyone parts ways for the next several years in life. Graduation ceremonies provide a public acknowledgement of receiving a diploma; an honor these graduates have earned. It is an honor many people only experience one time. If we can cram 200 people in a Candy Store or 300 to 500 people into a box store, where people are standing in lines, passing each other in aisles and touching items, not allowing communities and parents to find creative ways to have 50 students to stand apart on a football field, is out of line.
MN Dept of Ed: Your heavy handed mandates on schools or threats of cutting funding are excessive. It should be up to the local school boards, the students and family on how they should choose to celebrate.
Here is the link to their order https://tinyurl.com/y9t8zhfx
State Representative, 23B
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.