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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Dean Urdahl (R)

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Push on auto standards yet another area due process is needed

Friday, January 22, 2021


By Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Acton Township

Minnesotans have been experiencing a recurring theme the last 10 months or so as the representative system of government to which they are entitled under our Constitution is circumvented.

It has happened more than 100 times with each unilateral mandate Gov. Tim Walz has issued over much of the last year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. All 201 elected legislators should be involved in the decision-making process instead of just one person.

It is now happening again on a different matter as the governor seeks to use the administrative rule-making process as a means to mandate California’s auto-emission standards on vehicles sold in Minnesota. There is no formal legislative process taking place to examine the proposal’s pros and cons. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency may have scheduled a few public information sessions to discuss the governor’s initiative, a mere formality in the process with nowhere near the level of scrutiny the Legislature and testifiers would provide in a complete set of hearings. 

If the governor and his administration believe it is a good idea to adopt California’s car standards in Minnesota, let’s have that discussion in the Legislature. 

The fact is, it is not a good idea to bring California’s car standards to Minnesota and there are myriad reasons. First of all, it would significantly raise the cost for consumers. Mandating more electric cars also would limit our choices, leaving fewer vehicles people – especially in Greater Minnesota – want, such as pickup trucks and SUVs, on dealer lots. 

If this were a move Minnesotans desired, the free market would meet the demand. Forcing the market via another unilateral decision is the wrong approach. Has anyone considered that price hikes caused by adopting California’s regulations actually may force Minnesotans into older, less efficient vehicles? 

It is bad enough for Minnesotans to be subjected to the decisions of one person in our state but, in this case, it’s even worse. By following California’s auto standards we’ll be the only state in the Midwest ceding its car standards to California bureaucrats 1,700 miles away. Minnesotans wouldn’t have a voice on this issue, relegated to following orders from the state known for having the most polluted air in the nation. 

Electric vehicles are indeed gaining an ever-increasing foothold in our marketplace and appear to be a significant part of our future. That said, we should consider policies to make them more affordable and examine other ways this transition can occur more organically than having the governor put its thumb on the scale of the free market. 

These are just some of the things on this subject that should be addressed in a complete legislative process. This subject is an example of why we have a representative system of government and why it is so important we adhere to it. 

And, yes, with the days of “emergency” responses to COVID-19 long behind us, we also would be better off having our locally elected legislators participating in the process of re-opening our state instead of being subjects under the rule of one person.