We are inching ever closer to Tuesday’s deadline where, barring last-minute movement, inaction by the House majority will result in a significant tax increase for Minnesota employers at a time the state has a $9.3 billion surplus and all of us already are suffering historic price increases.
This issue arose because our state’s unemployment insurance trust fund was depleted during the pandemic. Minnesota received federal funds to cover the UI deficit the state incurred. That debt must be resolved by March 15 or a tax increase will take effect in our state, costing all of us more one way or another.
As I mentioned in my last newsletter, the Senate already overwhelmingly passed a UI bill a couple of weeks ago on a bipartisan vote. Gov. Walz, House Republicans, Senate Republicans, and Senate Democrats all support full UI relief. But House Democrats still have not come forward with a clean bill that fully solves the issue as the deadline looms.
House Republicans made a move to declare urgency on the issue and bring legislation to fix this problem to the floor on Thursday, but House Democrats blocked that effort.
In other news:
House Republicans have issued a package of bills aimed at improving public safety amid soaring violent crime rates in Minnesota. The package focuses on three key areas: crime prevention and accountability for criminals; police recruitment and retention; and holding the criminal justice system accountable.
Public safety is a cornerstone of our government’s responsibilities and Minnesota’s surge in violent crime suggests improvements are needed in that regard. The bills we have assembled provide common-sense solutions to help keep Minnesotans and our visitors safe.
A spike in carjackings may be the most glaring example of why action is needed. Minneapolis police reported 655 carjackings last year alone – with only 91 related arrests. A measure in the House Republican public safety plan makes carjacking a new criminal offense with increasing penalties for the level of violence.
Minnesota also must ensure local law enforcement agencies have enough officers on patrol and that they have the resources they need to do their jobs. House Republicans are offering legislation to bolster law enforcement recruitment numerous ways, including providing education reimbursements and Pathways to Policing program funding.
Law enforcement officers have been leaving their posts in droves the past year or so. We need to replenish our law enforcement ranks one way or another and the ideas we put forward could be part of that puzzle. It also would help if we could put an end to the damaging anti-police rhetoric. Thankfully, people in our particular area already are overwhelmingly supportive of law enforcement officers and their public service.
Data shows that judges statewide are departing from the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines at a troubling rate and issuing lesser sentences for more violent criminals. House Republicans have included several bills in their package to increase transparency and to better understand why violent criminals continue slipping through the cracks of Minnesota’s criminal justice system.
Have a good weekend and, as always, your feedback is welcome.