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

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Legislative update

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Dear Neighbor,

Another busy week at the Capitol is ending and, unfortunately, the biggest recent news is House Democrats are allowing a tax increase to take effect at a time the state has a $10 billion surplus and people already are facing astronomical price increases.

This is the result of House Democrats blocking multiple Republican attempts to vote on bipartisan Senate legislation that could have prevented this tax increase from taking place because the state’s unemployment insurance trust fund that was depleted with more people out of work during the pandemic. The federal government provided funding to the state to keep the program afloat and now that debt of more than $1 billion is due.

This issue should have been resolved weeks ago, but now people are going to face increased taxes and higher prices at a time the state is sitting on $10 billion in surplus tax revenue.

Gov. Tim Walz, House Republicans, Senate Republicans, and most Senate Democrats support passing a clean bill to fully replenish the UI funds. The Senate one month ago approved by a veto-proof majority legislation to do so.

But House Democrats continued to withhold that bill through the March 15 deadline. House Republicans made a move to declare urgency on the matter Monday to take up the Senate bill for a vote but, for the second time in the past week, House Democrats blocked the effort.

Now, a tax increase is set to take place to pay the state’s federal debt despite the fact Minnesota has a surplus of around $10 billion. One recent article quotes Greater Minnesota employers saying they face tax increases in the tens of thousands of dollars next year. A 130% increase translates to a $21,000 spike in one reported case.

This is likely to add a fair amount of strain to employers and consumers alike who already are dealing with increased costs and supply chain issues. The House majority bears full responsibility for holding the UI bill back as a negotiating chip to leverage other issues and now people are going to pay more because of this partisan gamesmanship.

On another subject, a press conference took place this week to unveil a bill (H.F. 4252) I have co-authored to crack down on non-profit groups that help criminals pay for bail, ultimately leading to more repeat offenses.

As crime continues to skyrocket, the Minnesota Freedom Fund is one organization with a record of making bail payments for criminals who commit other crimes following their release. Crimes committed by these repeat offenders include murder, sexual assault, and assault. One criminal supported by the Minnesota Freedom Fund was an alleged domestic abuser who murdered a man following his release on bail.

I will keep you posted on developments regarding these subjects and others. As always, let me know how I can help.