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

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Legislative update

Friday, May 3, 2024


We’re getting down to the nitty-gritty at the Capitol, with the final two weeks of the session just around the corner and very long floor sessions taking place all week to conduct thorough debates and votes on bills.

Here’s a look at the latest from St. Paul:

Labor package

As the Republican Lead on labor, I was especially interested in an omnibus bill the House passed with provisions related to that subject this week. Unfortunately, this bill increases penalties for the construction industry and adds onerous new building codes, driving up housing costs at a time home affordability already is a major issue for Minnesotans.

I do not support this bill proposed by House Democrats because it puts more burdensome mandates and costly penalties for clerical errors on our state’s industries. This is an especially ill-advised approach at a time businesses already are dealing with workforce shortages, price increases and high taxes in Minnesota. It places our businesses at an even larger disadvantage compared with surrounding states.

One highly concerning provision impacts the construction industry by changing the independent contractor status for construction workers by stepping up penalties for employers who may inadvertently misclassify employees as independent contractors. Furthermore, the bill permits stop-work orders across many project sites depending on the infraction; not only will there be a work stoppage at the site where the violation occurred, but potentially across the various sites of the same contractor.

The bill also provides $9 million for the Tending the Soil’s Rise Up Center, a 70,000-square-foot renovated YMCA in Minneapolis. Tending the Soil is a nonprofit umbrella for organizations such as the Headwaters Foundation, which describes Tending the Soil as working to “remove the toxins of white supremacy, patriarchy, and capitalism and nourish our communities to grow justice, self-actualization, autonomy, and collective communities.”

The bill is in the hands of the Senate after receiving 69-60 House approval along party lines.

Anti-2A bills

House Democrats approved three anti-Second Amendment bills this week which will do more to make criminals out of law-abiding citizens than crack down on violent criminals.

The three bills include new rules on firearm storage (H.F. 4300), requirements for reporting stolen firearms (H.F. 601), along with a new “trigger activator” definition that may impact some commonly used guns and render them illegal (H.F. 2609). These latest proposals follow last year’s changes Democrats enacted regarding universal background checks and red flag confiscation orders.

A better approach would be for our state to step up efforts to enforce existing laws, with prosecutors who are willing to fully charge violent criminals and courts that stop turning dangerous people back out on the street with a slap on the wrist.

House Democrats passed these three bills on party-line votes, sending them to the Senate, where Democrats have a one-seat majority. That means a senator who just last week received felony burglary charges could cast deciding votes on bills undermining people’s ability to defend themselves during a home invasion.

Palace for politicians

As of this week, Minnesota taxpayers officially are saddled with the first payment on the Democrats’ extravagant $730 million State Office Building remodel. I have coined this elaborate new office palace the Prodigal Building. 

House Republicans conducted a press conference Tuesday to reinforce the position we should not be making life harder and more expensive for Minnesotans so legislators can have fancy offices and a bigger building. 

Republicans offered numerous proposals to take more cost-effective approaches and put the dollars saved to more pressing issues for Minnesotans. Unfortunately, the House majority rejected these efforts and now Minnesotans are forced to pay.

Watch for more news from the House soon and, as always, please stay in touch as we make our way to the May 20 deadline to adjourn.



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