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

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Legislative update

Friday, May 10, 2024

Above is a photo I made earlier this week when I was out for a run past the Cathedral of St. Paul during a House recess.  

Mothers Day

Dear Neighbor,

Greetings from St. Paul, where we are about to set sail on the final full week of this legislative session before our May 20 deadline to adjourn.

Before we get into official business, I want to wish the moms in District 29A a happy Mother’s Day. May your day be filled with love and joy in the company of your family. We literally owe our world to you!

As for the latest notes from the House:

Religious freedom

I am pleased to say we took a big step toward restoring religious freedom which Minnesota Democrats stripped from faith-based organizations last year.

The House on Tuesday approved a variation of Republican legislation, amending the Minnesota Human Rights Act to re-establish protections for religious entities against discrimination claims. The bill received approval without opposition in both the House and the Senate and now is on Gov. Tim Walz’s desk for enactment.

The Senate and the House worked with our faith leaders and came together in a bipartisan fashion to restore constitutionally enshrined religious freedoms in Minnesota. While it is concerning this became an issue in the first place, I was proud to vote to protect our religious institutions who do so much good for the people Minnesota.

Thank God for good common sense and the ability to defend our religious freedoms.

This legislative action was necessary due to HRA legislation Democrats enacted in 2023, eliminating religious protections that had been in place since 1993. Before last year, when gender identity was included (or subsumed) within the HRA definition of sexual orientation, the still-existing religious exemption for sexual orientation covered gender identity claims as well. When a new, separate definition of gender identity was created last year, there was no corresponding religious exemption added.

Approval of this legislation is a win for our state, and I sincerely thank members of the faith community and my colleagues across the aisle for working together on this much-needed solution. This goes to show the good work that can be accomplished if we rise above the extreme partisanship and just focus on doing what’s best for Minnesotans.

Aside from a religious freedom standpoint, this bipartisan solution also is a victory for taxpayers who could have had to suffer the burden of legal costs for the state to needlessly defend a position most citizens disagree with. It’s fortunate we avoided that scenario by resolving this issue when we did.

ERA bill

Despite the fact we scored a big win on religious freedom this week, there is reason for great concern on the horizon: House Democrats are bringing a different bill through the process that could erase rights for millions of Minnesotans.

The radical, revised, and highly misleading, “Equal Rights Amendment” would erase rights for millions of Minnesotans and enshrine controversial “gender theory” into our law, enable babies in the ninth month to be aborted on demand for any reason, strip Minnesotans of their right to religious freedom, and more.

I am a strong “no” vote on this bill. Look for more on this subject in an upcoming newsletter as developments occur at the Capitol.

For now, have a good weekend and good luck in the fishing opener if you plan to head out on the water.



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