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

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Minnesota Legislature starting 2024 session

Thursday, February 8, 2024


By Rep. Joe McDonald

It seems like just yesterday one-party control in St. Paul was spending the $17.5 billion surplus, raising taxes by $10 billion and increasing the state budget by 40 percent.

That, in fact, was way back in the latter stages of the 2023 session, which ended in May. The Legislature returns to the Capitol on Feb. 12, with a host of issues to address once again and Democrats still in full control of the Capitol.

The big question is just how far they will push the envelope in 2024 after, in many cases last year, serving as activist legislators by pushing extreme proposals into law. We already mentioned the radical taxing and spending, but Democrats also enacted new laws allowing abortion up until the moment of birth, sterilizing minors without parents’ knowledge/consent, undermining our constitutional rights to bear arms and free speech, issuing driver’s licenses to illegal residents and then conducting automatic voter registration for anyone getting a driver’s license … the list goes on.

Did we mention they raised taxes by $10 billion despite a $17.5 billion surplus to increase state spending by 40 percent? And that, in a matter of months, the one-party control led us from a $17.5 billion surplus to a projected shortfall for the next biennium?

To top it off, just as soon as the Legislature adjourned last May, ground broke on the Democrats $730 million renovation of the State Office Building near the Capitol. For context, this project will cost taxpayers eight times as much as the new Senate building, which was constructed within the last decade for $90 million.

More radical laws from Democrats this year could include raising the gas tax by around 50 cents per gallon. This is the opposite of what we should be doing to eliminate wasteful government spending and deliver permanent tax relief so people can better afford groceries, gas, and other everyday essentials.

House Democrats also are now pushing legislation to make Minnesota a so-called sanctuary state, a haven for illegal immigrants at a time President Biden’s immigration policies have received bipartisan criticism amid chaos at the southern border. I strongly oppose this sanctuary state proposal.

In addition, Democrats are now pushing assisted-suicide legislation. From last year’s legislation repealing life-saving care for children born alive, to now looking to assist in suicide, creating new ways for Minnesotans to end life is a priority for the party in control.

While the current assisted-suicide bill restricts this practice to individuals 18 or older, the Legislature has a long history of expanding a minor’s right to consent to healthcare. It certainly raises questions over what’s next – especially if you remember how hard Democrats fought against providing additional funding for our ailing nursing homes last spring before Republicans finally prevailed by delivering a $300 million infusion.

At least a couple of new laws Democrats enacted last session need to be fixed when the Legislature returns to St. Paul. First, there was a $400 million error in last year’s tax bill to clean up. Furthermore, Democrats changed state law restricting how school resource officers may de-escalate aggressive or violent situations. In response, dozens of law enforcement agencies pulled SROs from schools across Minnesota to the detriment of public safety.

This issue remains unresolved, and we cannot afford to continue playing political games with student and teacher safety. Let’s address concerns with the new law early this session and resolve this issue through common-sense solutions instead of continuing to cater to extremist positions.

All this underscores the importance of restoring balance in St. Paul so we can do better to meet the needs of all Minnesotans. I will continue working to advocate for common-sense solutions while defending the basic rights of Minnesotans.


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