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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Chris Swedzinski (R)

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Legislative update

Friday, March 17, 2023

Dear Neighbor,

It’s been great to see so many friendly faces from District 15A at the Capitol during recent visits. Just a few include:


Russell Mayor Hilary Buchert and council members


Southwest Minnesota State University students

Yellow Med

Yellow Medicine Soil and Water Conservation District representatives

Safe & Sound Minnesota plan

I mentioned in my most recent newsletter House and Senate Republicans have unveiled a package of bills to help our state combat abnormally high rates of violent crime. Our common-sense solutions – featuring 17 different bills from 15 different Republican authors across the state – would help officers do their jobs, ensure our laws are enforced, and hold criminals accountable.

Here are some more details:

Confronting the criminal threat would include new laws to add a new crime of carjacking to state statute, increase penalties for fleeing police in a motor vehicle, align fentanyl to the same weight thresholds and penalties as heroin, and increase sentences for those convicted with at least two prior crimes of violence.

To address crimes of gun violence, the package specifically increases the penalty for transferring a firearm to an ineligible person and requires a court to ensure someone who has been ordered to give up their firearms has indeed done so. 

Republicans continue to support our state’s law enforcement officers with robust recruitment, training, and retention plans. The Safe & Sound Minnesota plan provides $1 million for Pathway to Policing, the award-winning program that brings new recruits into public safety from other careers.

Tough laws and great cops can only do so much, however. The Safe & Sound Minnesota plan also puts in place transparency and accountability measures for the state’s courts. New data reporting would help legislators and the public understand how many felony-level offenses go uncharged, as well as a database by the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission for the public to conduct research about judges and their decisions to follow criminal sentences created by the legislature.

To address concerns that violent, repeat offenders are too often released, there is a new mandatory minimum sentence for dangerous criminals who commit crimes with a firearm. Finally, the plan would also make who posts bail payments public data. Recent scrutiny on non-profits bailing out violent criminals shows Minnesotans are at risk when these non-profits aren’t held accountable for their decisions.

Solar gardens

The energy committee I serve conducted a hearing for a bill (H.F. 2432) that expands the community solar garden mandate that largely has benefited out-of-state businesses while also leading to more projects being built on prime farmland in Greater Minnesota. I offered an amendment reversing the provision that eliminates the contiguous county requirement and instead requires that subscribers live in the same county as the solar generating facility. The majority voted that down.

Minnesota’s community solar gardens were intended to provide access to solar power to renters, condo owners, and other residential customers without the capability to install rooftop solar panels. This program has instead evolved into a lucrative subsidy program for the benefit of out-of-state corporations. At one time, Xcel Energy estimated 87 percent of existing gardens were owned by out-of-state corporations.

Instead of expanding this program, we need to get back to the program’s original purpose of serving residential consumers.

Have a good weekend and, as always, let me know how I can help.