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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Mary Franson (R)

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Legislative Update from Rep. Mary Franson

Friday, April 21, 2023

Dear Friends,

My thoughts and prayers are with the family of Pope County Deputy Josh Owen who lost his life responding to a domestic call Saturday night. This was a tragic reminder of the dangers that our public safety professionals face protecting our communities. Please join me in praying for the families of the other officers involved, the community of Cyrus, the Starbuck Police Department, and the Pope County Sheriffs Office.

I was shocked and disgusted that during Governor Walz’s State of the State address Wednesday evening he failed to mention Deputy Owen. Law enforcement deserves our support, and I was disheartened that the Governor did not recognize that when he gave his biggest speech of the year.

Mandates Over Students 

Yesterday, Democrats passed the Education omnibus that puts mandates over students and takes away local control from school boards with their $2.2 billion bill. While Democrats will say this is an historic investment in schools, the reality is all these new mandates and administrative bureaucracy will hand many school districts more limited budgets than they are already experiencing.

Republican concerns with this bill include:

  • 65 new mandates that override local control and takes power away from school boards, teachers, and parents to work together.
  • Grows government and creates more bureaucracy so MDE can micromanage schools. The bill includes 47 more FTEs at the Department of Education, and additional administrative funding could finance 26 other FTEs.
  • Removal of Grade Level reading proficiency by 3rd-grade requirement.
  • Lowers standards. Lowering standards for teachers won’t produce better teachers, and lower standards for students will not lead to academic achievement.

Instead of empowering MDE, we need to empower parents, teachers, and school boards to work together to help our students thrive. While this bill may fully fund education for the teachers’ union, it does not serve the best interests of Minnesota’s students.

Democrats Expensive Environment and Energy Omnibus Bill 

On Monday, the House debated the Environment and Energy Omnibus bill. This bill makes life more expensive for Minnesotans, from driving up energy bills to jacking up the fees for fishing, boating, and visiting our great state parks. Problems with this bill include:

  • $33 million in increased fees for fishing licenses, DNR park permits, and watercraft licenses.
  • Expensive mandates that will increase energy bills for Minnesota families.
  • Encourages green-shaming businesses by imposing “energy benchmarking” mandates on owners of commercial buildings with 50,000 or more square feet. Property owners would be required to log the building’s energy use, with the Department of Commerce then required to publish online the address, total energy use, energy use intensity, greenhouse gas emissions, and an energy performance score. The author of this provision freely admits this process would shame property owners into efficiency and endorses this practice.
  • Spending on pet projects like $20 million for a new Climate Innovation Finance Authority, aka, the “Green Bank” scheme. Under this plan, contractors and subcontractors working projects with a budget of $100,000 or more financed by the “Green Bank” are subject to prevailing wage laws. Another $7 million will go towards grants to school districts or school transportation providers to subsidize the deployment of electric school buses – a rate five times more expensive than conventional busses.

I offered several amendments throughout the debate, including some regarding the proposed “Green Bank.” I am pleased that my amendments to make it a goal of the Green Bank to eliminate components that come from countries known to utilize child slave labor, ensure projects financed by the Green Bank source components from places with wage and labor standards equal to or better than Minnesota, and create a task force to investigate energy transition supply chains were all adopted.

While I’m pleased these changes were made, I could not vote for the underlying bill. When Minnesota has a $17.5 billion surplus, we should not be increasing energy bills for Minnesotans before we provide them with permanent, meaningful tax relief.

Bureaucracy Spending Spree and More Bad Election Policies

Democrats also passed the State Government and Elections Omnibus bill this week. The State Government portion of the bill continued Democrats' spending spree with pay raises for politicians, massive budget increases for agencies, and doubling down on wasteful spending like the $500 million State Office Building renovations. 

The most concerning elements of this bill were included in the Elections portion, which was a continuation of the Democrats' partisan elections bill which passed last week. These proposals include:

  • Puts Minnesota in the National Popular Vote compact. If enacted, this would give Minnesota's electoral votes to the presidential candidate deemed to have won the most individual votes nationally.
  • Repeals the eligibility requirements so that anyone - including ineligible voters - may participate in party caucuses.
  • Increases the threshold for obtaining major political party status from five percent to ten for the number of votes received at an election.

When Democrats push through these sweeping changes to our elections, without bipartisan support, they undermine election integrity. I voted ‘no’ on this bill and I would encourage you to reach out to Senators and encourage them to fight to remove these provisions in conference committee.

Threats to Positive Alternative Grants

This morning, the Ways and Means Committee will hear the Omnibus Health Finance bill. This bill furthers Democrats' extreme abortion agenda that has no guardrails to protect women and babies. The Health omnibus will eliminate the Positive Alternatives Act, and its funding that supports mothers who choose Life.

Eliminating this funding would have serious consequences for organizations who support pregnant women and newborns. I will continue advocating to protect the Positive Alternatives Act, and push for more funding for this program.   

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