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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Joe McDonald (R)

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Legislative report

Friday, February 28, 2020

Dear Neighbor,

Greetings from the Capitol, where this week we learned our state budget surplus is even larger than had been expected and a pair of gun bills were brought to the House floor.

On Thursday, Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) released the February Budget and Economic Forecast showing a budget surplus of $1.5 billion. This is an upward departure of around $200 million from the last full forecast in November.

This continued surplus growth highlights the need for tax relief in our state. I will have more information in an upcoming email regarding what House Republicans are proposing to help return these over-collected tax dollars to Minnesotans. Eliminating the tax on social security benefits has been a top priority for House Republicans for several years, and in 2017 House and Senate Republicans successfully reduced or eliminated social security taxes for more than 250,000 Minnesotans. 

I will be working closely with this project as a member of the House committee on taxes, so stay tuned.

As for the gun bills, the House majority voted to approve two gun bills this week despite bipartisan opposition. I oppose the proposals because they violate the rights of law-abiding gun owners and compromise the foundation of due process. Here is more:

  • Background Check Bill (HF8): While supporters of this bill claim this is about background checks for gun purchases, this bill creates new regulations that will prevent routine transfers between friends and family. In addition, permits to purchase would be limited to one firearm every 30 days, effectively creating a state level gun registry.
  • Red Flag Bill (HF9): Democrats have highlighted the need for a red flag law to "temporarily" seize guns from people perceived to be a threat to themselves or others. This bill violates due process and will not stop those who are intent on doing harm to others. We have laws in place to remove guns from people who may be considered threats to themselves or others. Those going through mental crises can be placed on a 72-hour emergency hold for medical evaluation and potential commitment for further treatment. In cases of domestic violence, Minnesota statute currently directs officers to make an arrest if they believe that domestic violence has occurred in the preceding 72 hours or if the person poses a threat to the alleged victim.

Our best approach would be to enforce the laws that already are on the books. Also, as I have noted many times, mental health is a major factor in this issue. The Legislature has made progress in recent years with funding for our children, with school-linked mental health grants to expand services to school buildings, school districts or counties that do not have any existing grants to provide training on evidence-based practices to improve mental health. More can be done on mental health to help people who need help before safety becomes a concern.

Until next time, have a good weekend.



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