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

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Legislative update

Friday, May 10, 2024
Mothers Day

Dear Neighbor,

The end of the 2024 session is drawing near, with a lot of unfinished business to address between now and our scheduled date to adjourn just one week from this Monday.

There is some good news to report this week after we took a major step toward restoring religious freedom which was taken away from faith-based organizations last year. The House on Tuesday approved a variation of Republican legislation, amending the Minnesota Human Rights Act to re-establish protections for religious entities against discrimination claims.

This move was necessary due to HRA legislation Democrats enacted in 2023, eliminating religious protections that had been in place since 1993. Before last year, when gender identity was included (or subsumed) within the MHRA definition of sexual orientation, the still-existing religious exemption for sexual orientation covered gender identity claims as well. When a new, separate definition of gender identity was created last year, there was no corresponding religious exemption added.

Whether the change in law last year was oversight or intent, at least one faith-based school already was facing a complaint due to the removal of protections for religious entities. It’s good to see we eventually did the right thing on this issue. I appreciate the efforts of people in our faith community who worked with legislators to come up with a bipartisan solution to restore religious freedom in our state.

The bill received approval without opposition from both the House and the Senate, putting it on Gov. Tim Walz’s desk for enactment.

In other news, the ag bill I mentioned in last week’s newsletter received House approval last night despite a couple of concerns. First, the bill targets certain groups instead of helping all those who want to get into farming. It also diverts money from the Agricultural Fertilizer Research and Education Council (AFREC) and ends the popular program.

The hope now is a conference committee eliminates controversial provisions before the bill comes up for a vote on final passage.

Watch for more from the House soon as we make our way into the final week of session. One important thing to keep an eye on is whether we are able to approve legislation to extend a temporary rate increase for nursing homes that is set to expire. Our nursing homes are already struggling and we should do all we can to, at the very least, maintain their rates. Here is a quick clip of me speaking about this issue on the House floor the other day.

Until next time, hope you have a good Mother’s Day and, also, best of luck if you plan to head out for this weekend’s fishing opener.