Congratulations to the Tri-County News for receiving six state awards at the recent (virtual) Minnesota Newspaper Association convention. Our local newspapers play such a key role in our communities and have faced extra challenges in recent months. Please do what you can to support our small-town media and, again, congratulations to the TCN for the awards it has earned.
PRAYERS FOR BUFFALO
My prayers go out to victims, and their families and friends, in the wake of this week’s tragedy in Buffalo. I empathize with the raw emotions people who have been impacted must be feeling. God bless our first responders and other public safety/medical personnel who performed to the best of their abilities under unthinkable circumstances. You all are in my prayers as well.
SCHOOL DECISIONS IN LOCAL HANDS
As House Republicans continue offering solutions to help workers, this week we looked to declare urgency on 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.
In short: It is time for more dialogue and less monologue.
Our children have suffered numerous negative impacts from distance learning, from academic achievement to mental health and beyond. The science and data show we can safely get our students back in the classroom and even President Biden’s CDC director said multiple times we could safely return to in-person learning before all teachers are vaccinated.
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. This bill supports that notion, while preventing Gov. Walz from overreaching and keeping schools closed longer than they need to be.
Unfortunately, the majority blocked the effort to declare urgency and take this bill up for discussion on the House floor Thursday.
A hearing took place this week for a bill (HF604) mandating facemasks for an indefinite period. This bill puts the governor’s mask mandate into state statute and puts the federal government – not legislators, the governor or anyone else in Minnesota – in charge of determining when it ends, even if the data here in Minnesota suggests that the mandate could be lifted. It also imposes massive fines on businesses who fail to enforce the mandate and exempts adult athletes from mask requirements while requiring them for children ages 5-18.
I have received hundreds of emails from people regarding this bill and they have made their concerns abundantly clear. Amendments were offered to at least improve the bill, including eliminating the inconsistent treatment of athletes and setting a sunset date of 11 months from now for the mask requirement. The majority voted down both proposals.
No formal action was taken on moving this bill forward and, for now, it remains set aside for possible further consideration at a later point.
Minnesota Management and Budget released a revenue report showing $296 million in greater-than-expected tax collections during January. According to MMB, 2021 fiscal year to date receipts are now $459 million above forecast. One main takeaway is this further illustrates the governor’s $1.7 billion tax increase is unnecessary and I hope the revised budget proposal he issues soon abandons that plan.
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 and restore the legislature's role as a co-equal branch of government. Once again, the majority blocked this effort.
Look for more news from the House soon and, as always, your correspondence is welcome.