Good news for high school bands this week as a COVID-19-related ban on them playing road shows was lifted just in time for the summer parade season. As noted in my last email, I wrote a letter to the governor urging him to ease up on bands and I’m glad to see this development.
The governor’s move on bands is not the only loosening of restrictions he has placed on our state. He has announced a series of steps toward fully reopening our state. While it is nice to see progress on lifting these restrictions, we now are at the point where we also need a transparent and concrete process for ending Minnesota’s peacetime emergency that has been in place for more than one year.
A clear plan should be communicated shifting away from a peacetime emergency and retiring the governor’s emergency powers. The public deserves to know what this looks like, including a transparent timeline and information about metrics that may guide decisions.
It also would be helpful to restore balance at the Capitol, with legislators participating in the decision-making process. We have not been in an emergency situation for a number of months and are long overdue in returning to the representative system of government that is the foundation of our state.
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.
As for budget work, conference committees are busy hashing out differences between finance packages offered by the House and Senate. While agreements usually happen in the waning stages of the session, we are nearing crunch time on setting a new two-year state budget with the May 17 adjournment just a week and a half away.
It still appears taxes remain a major source of contention in negotiations. The House majority proposes a multi-billion-dollar tax increase at a time the state has a historic surplus. This includes tax hikes on gasoline, license tabs, Main Street businesses, and middle-class Minnesotans in general.
I hope the majority abandons this plan because tax increases not only are unnecessary, but they would be just one more setback for people trying to recover from income they lost during the pandemic. The insistence on raising taxes ultimately could prevent us from getting our work done on time and I hope that is not the case.
The Senate has expressed opposition to tax increases and every budget bill in that body has earned bipartisan support. This is the approach I support, and urge that it be the foundation of a final budget agreement.
We’ll see what transpires in the next week or so and, while there is a long way to go, I remain guardedly optimistic things will come together in the end. For now, here’s wishing the mothers of District 18A a happy Mother’s Day.