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

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Legislative update

Friday, April 28, 2023

Dear Neighbor,

We’re making our way to the end of this session’s omnibus finance bills that form the state’s next two-year budget cycle. The House majority has provided initial approval mainly on party lines and conference committees are working to put these bills in shape for votes on final passage. Here’s a look at some recent developments:

Public safety

The House majority this week passed a public safety bill (S.F. 2909) which includes provisions of major concern for both our First Amendment and Second Amendment rights.

One measure in the bill creates a bad-speech registry where the state would create a government database of perceived “hate incidents” that fall short of criminal acts. To be clear, we’re not talking about “hate crimes” because those already are tracked. Instead, this bill gives the state authority to collect data about crimes of bias that have not been reported to law enforcement – so there is no documentation that the event happened – but people still could be placed in a new registry.

The bill also features anti-Second Amendment language from two controversial gun control bills: H.F. 14 (universal gun registration) and H.F. 15 (red flag). I support our law enforcement officers’ concerns about provisions that are unworkable and unrealistic to enforce on the streets. Instead of addressing the root causes of violent crime, this bill will create strict and impractical hurdles for law-abiding Minnesotans seeking to exercise their Second Amendment rights. Criminals looking to acquire firearms will not follow the complex new process laid out in the proposal and it will do nothing to stop the flow of firearms among criminals.

Our efforts should be focused on enforcing the numerous laws we already have governing firearm transfers before the Legislature creates new ones that will harm law-abiding citizens and are unlikely to deter those with bad intentions.

More nursing home funding needed

The majority approved a bill this week which ignores a long-term care crisis in our state by severely underfunding this portion of the state budget.

The House Human Services Finance omnibus package (S.F. 2934) came to the floor accounting for just .01% of the Democrats’ $72 billion budget proposal that consumes the state’s $19 billion surplus and increases state spending by 40 percent across the board.

This bill suggests the state is OK with nursing homes closing around the state. This bill seems to imply that a person who needs nursing home-level care should just figure it out on their own. It also seems to imply our nursing home workers – whether a CNA, a housekeeper or a cook – do not deserve to earn a livable wage.

Some info to consider: 2,597 nursing home beds have been taken out of service in Minnesota since 2020, the equivalent of shuttering 52, 50-bed homes. The long-term care industry in Minnesota currently is operating with a worker shortage of 53,000 and that, in the month of October alone, 11,000 elderly residents were turned away from nursing homes – largely due to lack of staff. The inability to fully staff our nursing homes then places added strains on hospitals, with nearly 20 percent of their bed space taken up by people who could be better served recovering in nursing homes or assisted living facilities.

This is unfortunate at a time Minnesota is in the midst of a “silver tsunami,” with more than 1.3 million state residents aged 65 or older. As these residents age, their need for care grows and Minnesota is not keeping up with these needs.

We can and must do better. Let’s hope a conference committee improves this bill before it comes back around for votes on final passage.

I will be back with more from the House soon. Until next time, please stay in touch.