Farmers are starting to get into the fields and golf courses are opening up. Spring sports are in full swing and moving towards playoffs and post season soon--I urge you to get out and support the students. Furthermore, with the weather finally warming up, this is a great time to visit loved ones in our long-term care facilities or to help a neighbor get their lawn in order. It is a good time to be neighbors. More importantly, I want to wish the best to all the mother's this weekend! I know that I would not be who I am without the gentle care and compassion from my mother.
It's crunch time here in Saint Paul. As I write this, there are just ten days remaining before the constitutionally required May 20th end-of-session date.
With such little time left, and no announced budget targets or final budget bills on their way back to the House and the Senate to be voted on, I'm concerned about the ability of the legislature and the public to examine and thoroughly vet the final budget bills agreed on in conference committee.
Our 2014-2015 biennium budget will be the largest in state history, and I want to ensure that the public gets the chance to weigh in and be fully informed about its impacts and consequences. Minnesotans deserve an open, honest, and transparent legislature, and I fear that with closed-door negotiations going on this week between legislative leaders and the Governor that a solution will be reached with limited public input and limited time for the public to offer their feedback.
I will keep you updated as best I can on the budget proceedings, and the developments as we continue to wait for our final budget bills.
Energy Bill Passes House
I wrote a few weeks ago about the potential impacts of HF956, the Omnibus Energy Bill, and the fact that due to the expensive mandates and energy standards it would raise the cost of energy for hardworking Minnesotans all over the state.
Fortunately, the bill that came to the floor was watered down and significantly less harmful than the bill that came out of committee a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, many of the key problems that will drive energy rate increases were still in the bill.
I was disappointed that an amendment on the floor essentially exempted 35% of the state from the new energy mandates, leaving the remaining 65% of the state to bear the brunt of the cost for these expensive new standards. The bills we debate and pass here at the legislature should be good for all of Minnesota -- we shouldn't be carving out exemptions for entire sections of the state. I voted "no" on the bill, and am hopeful the bill improves in the conference committee process. The Iron Range argued that this bill needed to exempt the mines and paper mills in their area to retain jobs and slow their economic slide. I argue that our businesses and farmers in District 9B are equally important and should be shielded from mandates that increase costs and eliminate jobs. Call me crazy!
Next week the legislature will be moving forward with the unionization of daycare providers. I have yet to hear support from our small business owners in this area.
Have a great weekend,
State Representative, District 9B