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

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Legislative update

Friday, February 26, 2021

Dear Neighbor, 

The big news from St. Paul this week is that our state’s economy continues to trend in the right direction after concerns for a multi-billion shortfall arose several months ago. 

Minnesota Management & Budget today issued a new state economic forecast which projects a $1.6 billion surplus for the 2022-23 budget cycle. This is a substantial change from the $1.3 billion shortfall projected in December for the same period.  

The improved bottom line is encouraging and should be helpful in crafting a new two-year state budget this session since there is no shortfall to resolve.  

This news also should tamp down talks of raising taxes. The governor proposes a $1.7 billion tax increase, a move that would both be unnecessary and threaten to stifle our economic regrowth. It would be a great injustice to raise taxes on the very people who have been put out of work or saw reduced income due to restrictions the state placed upon them, especially during a time of excess state revenue.

Instead, we should be thanking Minnesota workers for determination they’ve shown over recent months by working to reopen our state so businesses and families can work to recover lost income.

MMB said the turnaround is due, in large part, to an improved U.S. economic outlook that is bolstered by large federal actions that have emerged since November and were not incorporated in earlier projections. The projected surplus also is related to a higher revenue forecast, lower state spending, and an increased surplus for the current fiscal year.  

Social studies

I am continuing to closely monitor a new set of social studies standards our state is implementing to update curriculum in our schools. This is a project which happens once each decade and, this time around, some concerns have arisen.

People have been asking how they can submit comments for the record. The state’s next public comment period will take place in May at the soonest, when the second of three drafts is in place. Until then, local school boards may be your best venue for providing input.

I am among several House Republican members who co-signed a letter to the Commissioner of Education highlighting objections. Additionally, bills have been filed placing a moratorium on the new standards (HF351). I personally have authored HF 1146 which suspends and restarts the proposed social studies standards.

I will take a closer look at this subject in an upcoming newsletter and you also may visit the state’s social studies website for additional info. 

SAFE Account 

House Republicans remain committed to ensuring law enforcement has the resources needed to keep Minnesotans safe. Unfortunately, plans to create a $35 million public safety emergency fund in order to provide law enforcement agencies with additional resources and help avoid a repeat of last summer’s Minneapolis riots have stalled. 

The House majority twice tried and failed to get their SAFE Account bill off the floor (HF445) and now must decide whether it wants to pursue a bipartisan approach or continue allowing extreme, fringe views to hold up this bill.  

The most recent attempt failed by a 62-72 vote, the first time in years that a priority bill for the majority and/or governor has failed on the House floor. A major source of the holdup is the majority insists on including controversial policy provisions that caused the bill to lose support of Minnesota's top three law enforcement groups, while also blocking Republican attempts to offer a meaningful compromise that could have earned significant bipartisan support.  

The Star Tribune has taken note and recently published an editorial from its staff entitled: State House Republicans have the right idea on police security funding. The governor himself said on WCCO radio this week that he would sign the House Republican SAFE Account proposal if it reached his desk. Earlier in that same interview, he described it as a “workable solution.”

Until next time, have a good weekend.