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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Debra Kiel (R)

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Legislative Update from Rep. Deb Kiel

Friday, April 5, 2024

Legislative Update

Dear neighbors,

This week I had the privilege to sit down with a few of our superintendents to talk about important issues for our schools. Committees are also starting to wind down as the end of the session quickly approaches in May. However, there is still much work to be done, and bad bills to try and stop.

Update from Committee

One of those bad bills is HF 2607 introduced by Rep. Leigh Finke (D-St. Paul). It mandates that all new healthcare plans insurance cover gender reassignment surgery or gender-affirming care. However, the bill lacks a provision specifying the age at which individuals can receive this treatment, raising concerns about potential serious physical and mental health issues for minors statewide. Studies in the UK and EU have shown that medications like puberty blockers or gender reassignment surgeries can lead to severe mental and physical health problems, including depression and heart defects. The UK has already begun scaling back mandates on gender-affirming care due to the unpredictability and dangerous side effects these treatments pose for minors. Additionally, the bill fails to guarantee insurance coverage for a patient's detransition, a significant concern given that many, especially those who transition at a young age, regret their choice later on. This underscores the necessity of an age carve-out, as individuals under 21 should not make decisions without understanding the consequences or having available means to rectify any mistakes.

Religious Freedom Under Attack

In 2023, the DFL made changes to the Minnesota Human Rights Act to include gender identity as a protected class. While gender identity was initially thought to fall under the “sexual orientation” category, the Democrats chose to push further, disregarding the religious exemptions that have long been respected. These exemptions were designed to allow the faith community to maintain its values and beliefs in its hiring practices. However, with the Democrats' update, these exemptions were removed.

Initially, many of us believed that this was a mere oversight, but it quickly became apparent that the omission was a deliberate assault on our religious liberties. Amendments were proposed in the House Judiciary Committee to rectify this, but the Democrats, true to form, dismissed them without consideration. Faith leaders from various religions testified before the committee, advocating for religious freedom, only to be met with disdain and disrespect from the Democrats, who labeled them as bigots and subjected them to ridicule.

Last week, Representative Harry Niska (R-Ramsey) introduced a bill, HF 3926, to reinstate the religious exemption. Despite his efforts, House Judiciary Chair Jamie Becker-Finn (D-Roseville) denied a hearing for the bill. Niska brought the bill to the House floor and declared an urgency, which would have suspended the rules and allowed the Chamber to vote on its passage. However, the Democrats, led by Majority Leader Jamie Long (D-Minneapolis), moved to table the motion, effectively stifling any debate on the issue and leaving religious freedom in Minnesota hanging by a thread.

It is deeply troubling that the Democrats are so willing to trample on the rights of the faithful in pursuit of their agenda. There should never be a situation where the state and its current politics can pass down their edicts that run in direct opposition to a faith institution’s core values and beliefs. It remains to be seen if, or when, they will allow the House to address this critical issue and restore religious freedom.

Gun Control Measures

Aside from your First Amendment right coming under attack, Democrats are also after your Second Amendment rights. There are a handful of bills still alive in the legislative process that, as usual, target law-abiding gun owners, not the criminals who use their firearms for harm.

HF 3672 repeals the preemption that prevents local government from regulating firearms. The bill would allow cities and counties to pass gun control measures separate from the state. Of course, this could mean that each city has different firearm regulations ultimately creating confusing laws aimed at eliminating the constitutional right to carry. HF 2828 expands on this same idea, allowing cities to ban firearms in city-owned buildings or land.

Another bill to watch is HF 4300, which would require state-wide standards for the storage of firearms and establish criminal penalties for failure to meet those standards. While safely storing your firearms is important, especially when there are children in the home, a self-defense weapon that is not quickly accessible is of no use to its owner. Further, the enforcement of such a law would be next to impossible. The bill has no provisions outlining how it would be enforced.

At the end of the day, it’s frustrating, but on par with the Democrats’ agenda, to create legislation aimed only at responsible gun owners, not criminals who intend harm. Just a couple of weeks ago, Representative Peggy Scott (R-Andover) introduced a bill to eliminate straw purchases. A straw purchase is when someone with legal status buys a firearm for a convicted felon, who is prohibited from purchasing a gun. This is exactly how the gunman, who killed two Burnsville police officers and a fire/paramedic in February, came into possession of his firearms. The bill, which created criminal penalties for the purchaser, was voted down by the majority. Democrats have made clear that they do not care about real solutions to gun violence. They only care about taking away that right from law-abiding citizens.

We will continue to fight to protect your constitutional rights. I hope you all have a happy and blessed weekend! And, since I didn’t get to say it last week, I hope you all had a very Happy Easter with your families.

Please Contact Me

It’s an honor and privilege to work for you at the Capitol. Don’t hesitate to contact my office at any time this session to share your thoughts, concerns or ideas. I am here to serve you!

Kiel Signature