Congratulations to the ROCORI FFA Livestock Evaluation Team, which finished second in region competition and will be advancing to state in April. Way to go and good luck, Katie, Abby, Alana and Kaitlin!
As for legislative news:
’Tis the season for video legislative forums and town halls. Earlier this week, I joined fellow legislators from Districts 13 and 14 in attending the St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce 2021 Session Update. It was a good discussion and some of the key points that resonated with me include:
The latter two points once again underscore the importance of restoring balance at the Capitol so the Legislature can participate in the decision-making process. Legislators would be able to relay these concerns and respond accordingly instead of having one person call the shots and later scramble to make corrections as we have seen numerous times.
Also, thank you to everyone who participated in this morning’s Community Conversation town hall meeting Sen. Howe, Rep. O’Driscoll and I hosted on Zoom. Your input is very much appreciated and will be kept in mind as we make our way through the rest of the session.
Quiet start to session
This is the House’s least productive start to a session dating back to at least the early 90s, with just five bills approved through the first 10 weeks – none of which were of great significance. House Republicans this week took action to try to start moving four crucial, time-sensitive bills related to the SAFE Account, Paycheck Protection Program tax relief, Unemployment Insurance tax relief, and summer learning. These issues need not be partisan ones and, in fact, should receive overwhelming support. Here is a look at four bills that warrant prompt approval:
Opportunities to take each up each of these bills for votes on the floor were presented this week, but each attempt was denied by the majority.
Gov’s revised budget
Gov. Tim Walz issued a revised budget proposal Thursday, taking into account updated fiscal data provided in the state’s February economic forecast. While his first proposal included a $1.7 billion tax increase, this one still includes $670 million in tax hikes.
Furthermore, the governor’s revised budget fails to fully exempt the aforementioned PPP loans from state taxes and includes tax hikes on both individual and corporate income taxes.
The big question is why the governor is proposing tax increases at all. The state has a $1.6 billion surplus, $2.5 billion coming to the state from the recently passed federal relief bill and reserve accounts that are flush with cash.
This is about the worst time you could imagine to raise taxes. People have been through so much the last year, from jobs lost to reduced income and/or simple economic uncertainty, largely caused by restrictions placed upon them. I hope we can change our approach and start focusing on helping workers and families regain their footing instead of adding to their burden.
Childcare provider bill
A bill I have authored (H.F. 61) to establish an ombudsperson to help childcare providers work through licensing issues, corrective orders and other concerns recently received unanimous approval from the House committee on early childhood and is set for its next committee hearing. Stay tuned for more on this subject as it moves through the process in the hopes of soon reaching the floor for final approval.