We have now entered omnibus season where we are spending many hours on the floor discussing large bills filled with bad and expensive Democrat policies. Minnesota has a nearly $9.3 billion surplus and if these bills are any indication, House Democrats intend to spend all of it growing the size of government instead of focusing on permanent, meaningful tax reform.
This week the House and Senate finally reached an agreement to replenish the unemployment insurance (UI) trust and repay our debt to the federal government. I am pleased we have finally gotten this done in order to stop a multiyear tax hike for our job providers, however, this bill caused me a lot of heartache as House Democrats tied this issue to Frontline Worker Pay as well as $190 million for the Governor to spend on ongoing COVID response. The pandemic is over. Had we not put guardrails around this funding the Governor could have done whatever he wanted. Instead, the Legislative COVID-19 Response Commission will now allow just the House or Senate to reject an expenditure instead of both chambers which was the previous practice.
While I very much wanted to vote against these other policies, I could not vote against our job providers. Minnesota promised our employers that they would not be forced to pay higher UI taxes. Government forced our small businesses to shut their door during the pandemic, and now job providers are struggling amidst soaring inflation, a supply chain crisis, and workforce challenges. My support of our employers ultimately outweighed the problems with this bill and I voted yes.
As the Republican lead on the Early Childhood Committee, I heard many of the policies included in the Education bill this week. Our childcare provider industry is already over regulated. This bill would add a new layer of bureaucracy and compliance regulations. Private providers would have to deal with the Department of Human Services, the Department of Education, as well as local school districts in order to meet their licensing requirements. However, there are no licensing requirements for school-based programs and there is no oversight of these programs. The early childhood funding strongly favors school-based programs, giving them a clear advantage over private providers.
The K-12 portion of the bill also sought to impose more mandates and make bureaucrats, not parents, decide what’s best for your children. Instead of helping kids focus on reading, math, and science, House Democrats loaded up the bill with controversial and politically charged curriculum like ethnic studies, also known as Critical Race Theory. The bill heavily favored Minneapolis and St. Paul, forcing the rest of the state’s taxpayers to bail those school districts out after they made huge financial promises to their teachers unions.
I offered as an amendment to the education bill my Parental Rights Awareness Act. This amendment would have made sure that parents remain central to the education and health of their children, especially for our youngest students in kindergarten thru 3rd grade. It would require parents to be notified of any major change in their child’s mental, emotional, or physical wellbeing.
This is a commonsense piece of legislation that stops kids from being sexualized in the classroom and puts parents in charge of their kids' personal lives. Young children have developing minds (the rational part of a kid's brain isn't fully formed until age 25 or so) and are very impressionable. They should not be confused about who they are or made into something they are not.
Kids need to be learning about reading, writing and arithmetic, not complex and controversial ideas about sex. I was very disappointed that my Democrat colleagues refused to support the rights of parents and instead voted this amendment down.
During the State Government omnibus bill debate, Republicans brought forward an amendment to require Voter ID. I was so surprised that House Democrats voted the amendment down since they are requiring DFL delegates to produce an ID in order to participate at their state convention! This was hypocrisy at its finest, and I highly recommend you watch the debate here.
Democrats pushed for other extreme policies that would change how municipalities conduct elections and make campaign finances changes that would have a chilling effect on free speech. I voted no on this bill and I look forward to the Senate stripping these terrible provisions from the final version.
Today the House debated the Public Safety omnibus bill. I offered my Bail Abatement Nonprofit Exclusion (BANE) Act as an amendment. As a reminder, the BANE Act would prohibit nonprofit organizations, like the Minnesota Freedom Fund, from registering in the state of Minnesota for the purposes of providing payments to a person or state court to help criminals pay for bail. As crime continues to skyrocket, the Minnesota Freedom Fund only endangers the public by posting bail for criminals, many of whom go on to commit violent offenses after their release. You can watch me speak to this amendment here.
At the beginning of session, House Democrats talked about the need to crack down on crime. Yet they refused today to take my commonsense amendment to stop giving criminals a get out of jail free card. We know that individuals released by the Minnesota Freedom Fund have gone on to commit other crimes following their release like murder, sexual assault, and assault. I voted against the Public Safety bill and I look forward to working on the BANE Act next session.