It’s been another insane week in St. Paul. We spent many long hours on the House floor, often times not ending until around midnight, debating the many omnibus budget bills. Below is an attempt to provide quick summaries of a few of these monstrous bills and other news from the week.
Walz and MDH are finally following the “science” (if you can call “political science” science) and lifting the youth sports mask mandate, at least when our kids play outdoors and only when they are actively playing. If they are on the sidelines or in the dugout, that mask needs to go right back on.
I sent a letter with 16 other colleagues last week urging the Governor to remove the outdoor youth sports mask mandate. The next day, the Minnesota State High School League sent a similar request to Gov. Walz. This is a step in ensuring the health and safety of our kids, but we still have a long way to go to end the onerous mask mandates and the Governor’s emergency powers.
The Education omnibus bill was debated this week and it was so disappointing that the DFL’s policies failed to address the real needs of our students. There were zero plans to return kids statewide to full-time in-person learning, nor were there any proposals to make up for the lost academic progress after distance learning. Instead, the DFL’s bill gave only small increases to classroom funding, but gave bureaucrats a 10% spending boost.
Most egregiously, the education bill did nothing to remove the mask mandate for kids in the classroom. I shared some of your stories about masks in school during debate. It is so sad that our schools are using the MDH Mask Guidelines to humiliate, shame, ostracize, ridicule, and punish students who simply want the freedom to breathe. I have even received emails informing me that my son doesn’t like wearing a mask. The school writes as though I should be upset he doesn’t like it — what has this world come to? No one enjoys wearing a mask!
Studies have shown time and again that COVID does not pose a significant risk to children, nor are the classrooms a significant source of community spread. We need to end the mask mandate for kids in school. If you haven’t watched this Georgia mother yet, I urge you to do so. The safety of all is paramount, but science shows we can end the mask mandates in schools, just as Arizona recently did.
One of the biggest disappointments this week was the DFL’s failure to fully protect PPP loans in the Taxes omnibus bill. After a year of shutdowns, you would think both parties would be united and work together to do everything we can to support small businesses. Instead, the DFL continues to hold relief for small businesses hostage. Under the DFL’s tax bill, PPP relief would be capped at $350,000. This means that many businesses would still be taxed on their forgiven PPP loans.
We must fully protect PPP loans. Period. And there is no reason to not. Our state has a $4 billion surplus! Government forced businesses to shut down and restricted their operating capacity. It is now up to the legislature to make sure that businesses can survive. Fully protecting PPP loans is a big step in making sure our main streets are able to stay open.
During the energy omnibus bill debate, I offered several amendments to draw attention to the grave human rights concerns in the “green” energy industry. So many solar products are created off the backs of child and/or slave labor in the Congo or the Uygur region of China.
We cannot, on good conscious, implement these “green” energy policies without carefully taking stock of the consequences of using these products. I was able to include a study on the impact of human rights in the Congo and the Uygur region in China, as well as a provision to certify that no child or slave labor was used in the making of a community solar garden in the final energy bill.