Free Speech and the Minnesota Legislature
A very concerning action by the Minnesota House of Representatives occurred this week. A “House Resolution” was introduced and passed by a vote of 111 Yes, 8 Nays, and 14 obstaining (one absent) that denounced terrorism against elected officials in very broad terms and denounced anyone who questioned the results of the November elections or election law violations.
House resolutions by vote are rare, they carry no official action, and are typically proposed to memorialize someone or a significant event. This House Resolution was unique in that it effectively called on House members to pledge an oath denouncing anyone who disagrees with these statements and to condemn people who speak or act in a way that challenges a government official.
To be clear, I do not support violence against anyone. That should not even need to be said. Our political system and our country cannot stand if we condone destructive behavior by individuals who are intent on tearing our institutions apart or threatening the lives or health of anyone. However, this House Resolution went further, and I believe placed free speech itself into question.
The resolution included vague statements such as, “efforts to thwart the will of Minnesota voters are undemocratic.” While this sounds good, what does this include? The same day of the Washington D.C. rallies, protests, and sadly riots, there was a peaceful demonstration in St. Paul. At the peaceful St. Paul rally, I and five of my legislative colleagues spoke about election integrity and the unlawful acts by Secretary of State Steve Simon when he changed election law without the consent of the legislature.
The Speaker of the House falsely claimed they were investigating us for criminal acts. In fact, there is not and never was an investigation. The BCA said nothing unlawful occurred at the rally by anyone attending and did not even open an investigation. Here is the floor speech about HR1 and correcting the media’s false headlines.
Walz’ California Energy plan
This week in the Climate and Energy Committee, Chair Jamie Long introduced his bill to mandate 100% carbon-free energy in 19 years. This means closing down all natural gas and traditional power plants, including our State's three carbon-free nuclear reactors. Minnesota's push for mandating wind, solar and electric vehicles is creating extensive environmental damage to developing nations that mine, process, manufacture, and recycle these green energy products made from toxic materials under substandard environmental and labor conditions. Over 40,000 children and slaves work mining cobalt in the Congo, a primary ingredient in electric car batteries. Electric car batteries are now being mandated by Governor Walz. Shifting our problem to Africa, China, and developing nations is not a solution. I will continue to push for transparency and accountability in our energy supply chains. There is no "carbon-free" option, but we can work together towards a cleaner future.
This photo shows that all-electric cars have a larger carbon footprint than gasoline-hybrid cars because it includes the carbon emitted during the extensive mining, manufacturing, and disposal process and not just the operation of the vehicles.
The Governor’s Budget
Walz unveiled his budget for the 2022-2023 biennium. He proposes a new fifth income tax rate of 10.85 percent and a hike in the corporate income tax rate to 11.25 percent. Minnesota already has the fifth-highest top rate of state personal income tax in the United States - 9.85 percent on income over $164,400 a year. Only Oregon, New Jersey, Hawaii, and California have higher top rates.
Minnesota does not just tax “the rich” heavily. Our state’s lowest personal income tax rate - 5.35 percent on the first dollar of taxable income - is higher than the highest rate in 25 states.
The strategy of simply increasing taxes to cover our spending “wants” is not good long term planning. There are many wonderful reasons people choose to live in Minnesota. But we must be careful to assume those reasons are limitless, especially when the amount of people’s income subject to taxation continues to grow. We have always accepted that corporations and high income earners represent a smaller portion of our society, but pay a larger portion of the state taxes. If a larger portion of those corporations and people move their permanent residence to lower tax states, this will not only decrease the number of jobs, but also disproportionately increase the tax burden on everyone. This is a concern we must keep in mind as we exponentially increase our spending year over year. We must also remember that as corporate taxes increase, new companies choose not to build here and existing companies choose not to expand. Those who continue to do business in Minnesota simply pass the additional costs on to the consumers, or decrease their wage costs.
You can count on me to honor my commitment to never support a tax increase. In fact, it’s time the state shared in the sacrifices that it’s forced upon many of us since last March. These unconstitutional and immoral lockdowns have placed an extreme burden on business owners in our State. The Governor plans to increase taxes on these folks who have managed to weather the storm. His budget is short-sighted and reckless.
Bridging the Divide
While in St Paul during the week, I have been spending time in the community around the Capitol meeting with metro residents to work on healing the division between metro and greater Minnesota. Representative Miller, Senator Koran and I met with leaders of the Somali community to discuss their interaction with government agencies and where we should focus on improvement. This was an enlightening visit and we look forward to meeting with them again to learn more.