First off, good luck to winter athletes from our area as we continue making our way through the various postseasons. The state wrestling tournament was last week and I congratulate the participants from District 13A.
It’s been another rather busy stretch in St. Paul, but I want to circle back to an event back in our area before touching on the latest legislative subjects.
I attended the recent Exploring Potential Interests and Careers event at St. Cloud Technical & Community College in St. Cloud. This was the first ever large-scale career event in our region and let’s just say it was wildly successful and completely shattered expectations.
The event was designed to bring together area schools and businesses in order to help put students and the workforce leaders on the same page. It was a great opportunity for students to participate in hands-on labs and simulate performing various careers.
The workforce shortage we face in Greater Minnesota is a real issue and it is so good to see productive efforts such as this gain traction. Congratulations to all those who made this event such a wonderful success. With attendance this strong the first time around, I can’t wait to see what next year’s EPIC looks like.
As for other news from St. Paul, here are just a few highlights:
The state received a new economic forecast on Thursday and it is somewhat a mixed message. While there remains a budget surplus of around $1 billion, state revenue collections are down by $375 million from what was anticipated in the November forecast. Information from the forecast will serve as the framework as the House and Senate get serious about assembling budget proposals for the state’s next two-year cycle. My initial reaction is the $1 billion surplus should tamp down any proposals for tax increases, while the diminished revenue highlights the need to set a responsible overall budget total to avoid spending ourselves into a shortfall. This will be an ongoing topic of discussion this session, so stay tuned.
The House Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Finance and Policy Division held hearings for two gun bills last. One (H.F. 8) would expand background checks, creating new regulations that will prevent routine transfers between friends and family. In addition, permits to purchase would be limited to one firearm every thirty days, effectively creating a state level gun registry. Minnesota already conducts background checks and the vast majority of criminally acquired guns come from illegal sources.
The other gun bill (H.F. 9) would allow law enforcement to “temporarily” seize guns from people perceived to be a threat to themselves or others. This bill violates due process and treats people as guilty until proven innocent. It also causes a dicey situation for law enforcement by expecting them to go knock on someone’s door and seize guns from a person who may not even be aware they have had a seizure levied against them. Minnesota already has laws to remove guns from people who may be considered threats to themselves or others.
I am a firm believer in the Second Amendment and will continue working to protect our constitutional rights and in opposition to bills such as these.
I have received numerous inquiries from people regarding government-mandated vaccinations and appreciate the feedback. It is good that so many parents care enough about this issue to reach out to me. To date, no bills have been introduced in the House on this subject and I will continue to keep your thoughts from both sides of the issue in mind.
On a final note, I heard the following quote during an Education Finance Committee meeting and I would like to share it because it really resonates with me:
“Our society will be judged on how we treat the very young.”
-Corey Bulman, 2017 MN Teacher of the Year.
That’s all for now. Look for more news from the Capitol and our district soon.