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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Paul Anderson (R)

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Legislative update

Friday, February 16, 2024

Dear Neighbor,

Greetings from the Capitol, where the 2024 legislative session kicked off this week.

The dynamics compared with last year are not the same, since this is not a budget year (our two-year budget is set in odd-numbered years). Another aspect that’s different is the $19 billion surplus we had last year, which has all been allocated and will be spent, quite possibly to be replaced by a modest deficit when the current biennium ends in June of next year.

Sessions in even-numbered years are sometimes called the “bonding session,” which is when the state finances large projects through passage of a capital investment bill and the issuance of general obligation bonds. Many of these projects are either public infrastructure such as water treatment plants or roads and bridges or what’s called asset preservation. These bonding bills require a super majority of votes to pass and can sometimes be part of last-minute negotiations. The passage of bonding bills is not assured and, occasionally, they don’t get done.

The school resource officer issue already has been a big topic of discussion. You may recall changes made to state law last year limit what SROs are allowed to do to de-escalate potentially aggressive or violent situations. In response, law enforcement agencies pulled SROs from numerous schools across Minnesota.

On Day 1, the House minority made a motion to suspend the rules to bring forward a bill (HF3489) to resolve the school resource officer issue in our schools. Unfortunately, the majority blocked this motion that would have allowed prompt action. The bill has continued to receive committee hearings this week and it is my hope we are able to reach an agreement and put this issue to rest ASAP.

It's also expected that tax legislation will move quickly early in the session to remedy a situation from last year’s tax bill that deals with standard deductions. Inflation factors were omitted, which resulted in a $350 million error. Also needing attention is language relating to something called “Net Operating Losses.”

Another topic sure to attract discussion because of its huge cost is the $730 million project to remodel and expand the State Office Building (SOB), which has long been the home for House members and various other staff. Work has begun and some staff have already been moved out of the SOB. When session ends, the entire building will be vacated and our offices moved across the Capitol Mall to the Centennial Building.

Other bills that have drawn early attention include one that would designate Minnesota as a “sanctuary state,” and another that would make assisted suicide legal in Minnesota. I expect a great deal of opposition to the sanctuary state legislation, as it would ban local or state law enforcement from assisting federal agencies in immigration cases.

We have seen the problems caused in other states when they are impacted by large numbers of immigrants. One Minnesota county, McLeod, held a special meeting this past Saturday, during which their commissioners unanimously passed a resolution urging the Legislature to not support the sanctuary bill. They cited the negative impacts on budgeting taxpayer dollars and public resources.

As the ranking House Republican on agriculture, I look forward to addressing issues related to that subject this session. Water quality in southeastern Minnesota is one problem we will look to tackle, with high nitrate counts in that region. One thing to keep in mind is that our ag industry continues making improvements to protect our water sources, but it can take some time before gains can be realized and recorded. Shallow wells have been a factor with this issue and we need to make sure they are up to code.

The dairy industry also figures to be a part of discussions this year amid razor-thin margins. The Legislature appropriated $4 million to help people sign up for a dairy-protection program, but the lack of a federal farm bill has prevented the program from getting up and running. Stop-gap state funding could help buy some time and I’ll follow up as developments occur.

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



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