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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Shane Mekeland (R)

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House report

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Dear Neighbor,

With a brief special session in the books, a new state budget on the governor’s desk and the Legislature having adjourned, here is a quick recap of what happened at the Capitol this year:

A brief special session took place Friday and early Saturday after proposals to raise taxes by $12 billion caused budget talks to stall and no deal was in place when the Legislature’s May 20 date for adjournment arrived.

Raising taxes by $12 billion was a non-starter, but the governor and House liberals pushed us all the way to a special session before they were willing to admit it and move on.

It’s hard to comprehend the fact that, all in the same budget, they wanted to raise the gas tax by 20 cents per gallon, cut nursing home funding by $68 million and create another tax on Minnesotans’ paychecks to pay for a new government program.

Fortunately, we defeated all of those proposals and the liberals’ big source of pride this year seems to be extending a tax on health care that will cost Minnesotans $2 billion at a time the state has a surplus of $1 billion and growing. That’s probably not something they should be writing home about.

On a local note, state funding for infrastructure improvements to the Becker business park remained in the mix to be included in a potential bonding bill this session, except there turned out to be no bonding bill presented for a vote. The improvements that would have been funded through a bonding package are necessary to attract new businesses to the area, including the proposed $600 million Google data center to be built in the park.

This whole issue is the product of Big Brother’s green energy mandates recklessly forcing out coal plants with no regard for local damages that may result. We wouldn’t be in this position if not for this liberal agenda that’s been advanced but now we are left looking for cooperative solutions to help make the best of the bad hand we’ve been dealt.

This is something of a time-sensitive issue and, with bonding out of the picture until at least next year, I am working to determine whether other paths are available to help move this along. This would be one of the largest private economic development projects in Minnesota in years and the hope is we can still find a way to get it done. Look for more on this if/when there is news to report.

The special session was called by Walz after days of closed-door meetings, and a “tribunal” comprised of the governor, the House speaker, and the Senate majority leader. Some conference committees did not adopt a single provision in a public setting, resulting in entire bills being decided behind closed doors. The largest budget bill was not publicly released until several hours after the special session had begun.

House Republicans successfully negotiated changes that will enhance transparency next session, including a change to the House committee structure that will increase transparency and fix flaws in the structure implemented this year.

Liberals promised to increase transparency, but instead completely undermined our system of government to make this year’s most important decisions out of public view. That is unacceptable and the improvements we negotiated should make for an improved process so taxpayers know what’s happening with their money.

Until next time,

Shane

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