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

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Legislative update

Friday, March 17, 2023

Dear Neighbor,

Greetings from the Capitol, where we are heading into the second half of the 2023 session. Here are some of this week’s highlights from the House:

Public safety package

In last week’s newsletter, I mentioned House and Senate Republicans have assembled a Safe & Sound Minnesota public safety plan to help get a handle on abnormally high violent crime in our state.

Public safety is government’s first obligations to citizens. Minnesotans are concerned about the increase in violent crime in our state and it is time we get serious about common-sense solutions to help officers do their jobs, ensure our laws are enforced, and hold criminals accountable. 

Overall, the Safe & Sound package includes 17 different bills from 15 different Republican authors across the state. Confronting the criminal threat would include new laws to add a new crime of carjacking to state statute, increase penalties for fleeing police in a motor vehicle, align fentanyl to the same weight thresholds and penalties as heroin, and increase sentences for those convicted with at least two prior crimes of violence.

To address crimes of gun violence, the package specifically increases the penalty for transferring a firearm to an ineligible person and requires a court to ensure someone who has been ordered to give up their firearms has indeed done so.  

Republicans continue to support our state’s law enforcement officers with robust recruitment, training, and retention plans. The Safe & Sound Minnesota plan provides $1 million for Pathway to Policing, the award-winning program that brings new recruits into public safety from other careers.

Tough laws and great cops can only do so much, however. The Safe & Sound Minnesota plan also puts in place transparency and accountability measures for the state’s courts. New data reporting would help legislators and the public understand how many felony-level offenses go uncharged, as well as a database by the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission for the public to conduct research about judges and their decisions to follow criminal sentences created by the legislature. 

And, regarding concerns there is a revolving door in our system for repeat offenders, the package includes a new mandatory minimum sentence for dangerous criminals who commit crimes with a firearm. Finally, the plan would also make who posts bail payments public data. Recent scrutiny on non-profits bailing out violent criminals shows Minnesotans are at risk when these non-profits aren’t held accountable for their decisions.

Honoring Bud Grant

It was an honor for me to deliver a brief message on the House floor this week, recognizing a Minnesota treasure, former Vikings coach Bud Grant, following his passing over the weekend. Click here for the video.

Almanac at the Capitol appearance

It was my pleasure to appear on the PBS show “Almanac at the Capitol” this week. As the ranking House Republican on the Capital Investment Committee, I was invited to share my thoughts on the House’s recent passage of legislation to fund infrastructure projects in our state. Click here for video of that show.

Restoring civics

I continue working closely with legislation I have authored to restore civics as a priority in high schools, a subject I’ve spent years working to advance to mitigate a crisis of civics knowledge.

Seventy-seven percent of Americans between 18 and 34 can't name even one of their U.S. senators. Two-thirds of Americans can name at least one judge on American Idol. We've been in a civic slide to failure for 50 years and it is undermining our nation’s foundation.

The bill I have authored this year makes civics credit-relevant for high school juniors and/or seniors. It is on track to be included in a House education omnibus bill this year. Things also look promising in the Senate, where an education chair is carrying the companion bill.

Until next time, have a good weekend and please stay in touch.