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

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Legislative update

Friday, May 7, 2021

Dear Neighbor, 

Just one full week remains in the 2021 session before we are set to adjourn May 17, yet House Democrats have not budged from their tax increases on gasoline, license tabs, Main Street businesses, and middle-class Minnesotans in general.

While I have said all session the House majority’s insistence on raising taxes amid a historic surplus is completely unnecessary, time is now running out for those same Democrats to get the hint so we can get a new budget in place on time.

I’ll say it again: There is no need to raise taxes by more than $2.6 billion when the state has a $4.2 billion surplus, especially as workers try to recover income they lost in large part to restrictions the governor placed up on them.

It’s hard knowing when the House majority will finally acknowledge the fact their tax increases have no chance whatsoever of passing the Senate, where every budget bill in that body has earned bipartisan support and tax increases are absent. Time is running out. Let’s get serious about finding agreement on a responsible, bipartisan budget that funds our priorities without raising taxes.

In other news, Gov. Tim Walz announced yesterday he is loosening COVID-19 restrictions he placed on Minnesota ... something that should have happened months ago. His move comes after Florida lifted all remaining COVID restrictions, and governors of Democrat states such as New York and California have established target dates for the lifting of capacity limits and other COVID restrictions. Other deep-blue states such as Connecticut lifted capacity limits starting as early as March.

I will say it is good to see he made public the dates and data for when restrictions will be lifted, but what we really need is for the governor’s emergency powers to be put to rest. Or, at the very, very least, he also owes the public a transparent and concrete process for ending Minnesota’s peacetime emergency that has been in place for more than one year.

The governor has maintained his emergency powers despite the fact we are not in an emergency and the public deserves to know where the off-ramp is. I would prefer the governor just acknowledge we’re not in an emergency and cancel his emergency powers now but, absent that revelation, we owe the citizens a transparent process that sets out a data-driven timeline.

The lack of clear communication, and inconsistent and arbitrary announcements from the governor’s office with seemingly no respect for people’s time or planning has been a major source of frustration for people over the last year. Let’s correct this problem, work to put a plan in place and make it public so Minnesotans can see where we are going and how we are getting there.

House Republicans have voted nearly 20 times to end the peacetime emergency and have put forward numerous proposals to end or modify the governor’s Chapter 12 powers, as well as proposals to establish timelines and metrics that would end the peacetime emergency. Along the way, Democrats have refused to advance those proposals in the House and have even stonewalled proposals from their own party to wind down the governor’s emergency powers.

Until next time, happy Mother’s Day. Thanks for all you do.