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

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Quick issues primer as 2024 session nears

Wednesday, February 7, 2024


By Rep. Dean Urdahl

The Legislature returns to the Capitol Feb. 12 to start the 2024 session and, as usual, a significant number of important issues are on tap.

This may not be an official budget year since a two-year plan was enacted last spring, but there are some fiscal issues that warrant action. First, $400 million worth of errors in last year’s omnibus tax bill need to be corrected or it will cost our state’s bottom line. That’s something we cannot afford after Minnesota Democrats raised taxes by $10 billion and spent the $17.5 billion state surplus to increase the state budget by 40 percent – putting Minnesota on course for a shortfall in the next two-year cycle.

This path is not sustainable, and we need more balance in St. Paul to do the work of the people and get our state back on track.

Another issue that needs to be resolved early this session relates to school safety. A change in state law Democrats enacted last spring which limits how school resource officers are allowed to do to de-escalate aggressive or violent situations. This caused dozens of law enforcement agencies to pull SROs from schools across Minnesota and the situation still has not been fully resolved. We still need clarity to alleviate concerns and make sure our students, teachers and staff are safe in schools.

The issue of assisted suicide has come to the forefront for the 2024 session after House Democrats recently conducted a hearing to discuss legislation they propose allowing this practice to occur in Minnesota.

The current bill may restrict assisted suicide to individuals 18 or older, but the Legislature has a long history of expanding a minor’s right to consent to healthcare. It certainly raises questions and valid concerns over how much this could be expanded. It also is causing people to be taken aback by highlighting the fact creating new ways for Minnesotans to end life clearly is a priority for the party in control, either through their extreme abortion law or, now, assisted-suicide legislation.

As the House Republican lead on capital investment, I will be working closely with this year’s bonding bill to fund essential infrastructure projects in our state. Even-numbered years traditionally are “bonding” years at the Capitol and I will be working to have a strong package in place if and when a bill is brought up for consideration. Bonding bills require a supermajority for passage, which means Republicans will have a strong say in the finished product.

As always, my top priority will be to craft a bonding package which focuses on essential infrastructure and state asset preservation – the bricks-and-mortar stuff. People want safe roads and bridges, healthy drinking water/wastewater systems, and the state must keep up the properties it owns. Those projects must comprise the vast majority of a bonding bill to not only honor Minnesota taxpayers, but to simply garner the requisite Republican support in order to pass.

Whether it’s bonding or any other issue at the Capitol, more balance is needed in St. Paul. Let’s work to eliminate wasteful government spending so we can deliver permanent tax relief for Minnesota families to help people afford groceries, gas, and other everyday essentials.

Please stay in touch regarding these issues and any others that are important to you. I appreciate the input and remain honored for the continued support as your state representative and voice of reason and common sense in the House.