Democrats out-of-control spending spree came to an end for the week when we wrapped the debate on the omnibus budget bills. In all, Democrats are raising taxes by nearly $10 billion. A 40% increase to the state budget doesn’t make a lot of sense when family budgets haven’t increased by 40% in the last year. Keep reading for more highlights from the week.
Supporting Our Nursing Homes
The Human Services Finance Omnibus bill passed the House on Tuesday. Despite good provisions to protect vulnerable Minnesotans, the bill failed at addressing the nursing home crisis that is affecting every community in the state.
Our state is in the middle of a long-term care crisis. Nursing homes are closing across our state. Families are waiting months and looking up to 4 hours away to find a safe place for their loved one. Hospitals are clogged with patients that should be discharged to nursing homes. Unlike other facilities, nursing homes are the only other option besides a hospital with nurses around the clock.
Republicans were able to add an amendment to the bill to increase spending, but it won't be enough. Democrats had originally appropriated 0.01% of their budget – $3.9 million – to nursing homes. The Republican amendment added an additional $20 million, but our nursing homes still need more funding to support our seniors.
Democrats Break Their Promise
During the campaign there was bipartisan support to fully eliminate the tax on social security. Unfortunately, that election promise seems to have gone out the window. Instead, Democrats increased taxes in the Taxes bill by $2.2 billion. Here’s how they plan to do it:
- Changes E-pull tabs as we know it. The definition of electronic pull-tab games will change to require the player to manually activate each ticket to be opened and manually activate the reveal of each row of symbols as a separate and distinct action. This will devastate Minnesota's charities and the local bars and restaurants they partner with.
- Raises taxes on businesses. Mandates worldwide combined reporting when calculating the corporate franchise income tax, something that no other state or country requires and will put our state at a huge competitive disadvantage.
- Establishes a new 5th tier tax bracket. This new bracket will tax individuals making over $600,000 and married joint filers making over $1,000,000 at a rate of 10.85%.
It is so disheartening to see Democrats raise taxes on hardworking Minnesotans when we have a $17.5 billion surplus. We should be returning the surplus, but instead Democrats want to go on a spending spree.
Pushing an Activist Agenda
On Wednesday the House debated the Health Omnibus bill that includes provisions to give Minnesota even more extreme abortion laws. The bill removed many of the commonsense, bipartisan guardrails that the legislature passed prior to the overturning of Roe v. Wade last summer.
Perhaps most egregious is the decimation of the Born Alive Infants Protection Act, which passed in 2015. Democrats are refusing to extend any basic human right by striking the requirement that medical personnel take reasonable measures to preserve the life and health of the born alive infant. The stricken language is replaced by reasonable measures to “care” for the born alive infant.
The bill also included a technical change to ensure that “gender affirming services” are covered by Medical Assistance. I offered an amendment during the debate to include my PROM (Protect Reproductive Organs of Minors) Act. This bill would prohibit sterilizations and puberty blockers for minors. We must protect our children. I am disappointed that this important guardrail for our kids was not adopted.
Free Speech Under Attack
The Public Safety and Judiciary Omnibus was on the floor Wednesday evening. The Judiciary portion of the bill hands the Human Rights Department a 56% budget increase to weaponize the office to investigate discrimination against employers, housing providers, educational institutions, and more.
I am very concerned by the proposed changes to the Human Rights Department. One provision in the bill will create a hate-incident registry where the state would create a government database of perceived “hate incidents” that fall short of criminal acts. “Hate crimes” are already tracked in Minnesota. Government will now have the authority to collect data about crimes of bias that have not been reported to law enforcement – so there is no documentation that the event happened – but people still could be placed in a “hate incident” registry.
Rep. Harry Niska offered an amendment to remove this provision. I encourage you to watch his speech here. There is no reason to have a government data base to track incidents that are not criminal. Rep. Walter Hudson stood up for free speech, which you can watch here.
This issue is quickly gaining national attention. Rep. Niska was on Fox and Friends First this morning standing up for free speech of all Americans. You can watch his interview here.