Here’s the latest news from St. Paul.
DFL Omnibus Bills
The DFL finished passing their omnibus bills last week, many of which included policy that would be disastrous for the state. Their bills include $12 billion in tax hikes on Minnesota families over the next four years, a $68 million cut to nursing home funding, and a 70% gas tax increase indexed to inflation. It also brings back the ‘sick tax’ on doctor visits and hospital stays, and doesn’t extend the reinsurance program, which will significantly raise health care costs.
The Higher Education bill, which is normally one of the smaller, less controversial bills, included a provision that would enable immigrants here illegally to receive more money in state grant aid than students who are here legally, trying to make up for federal dollars that were taken away. This is on top of already giving them in-state tuition. Unfortunately, when Republicans offered an amendment to remove that part of the bill, Democrats voted it down.
Environment and Natural Resources
The Environment and Natural Resources bill passed last Tuesday, full of higher fees that will make outdoor recreation much more expensive in Minnesota, and wasteful spending, like government funding to plant pollinator-friendly plants on residential lawns. It also grows government by bringing back the MPCA Citizen’s Board and creating a new Office of Outdoor Recreation, which the affected agencies did not ask for.
The State Government bill passed along party lines last Tuesday, growing government by a whopping $101 million. It includes massive increases of over 10% at some of the state’s largest agencies, and provides a $20 million bailout for the city of Minneapolis. The bill also funds a pay raise for legislators.
In addition, the bill includes a huge number of very controversial elections policies. Normally, election policy is passed in a separate bill with a 20-year precedent requiring “broad bipartisan support” for policies that affect our elections system. Unfortunately, the Democrats decided to disregard that precedent and take a hyper-partisan approach to changing how our elections are run. Some of the most controversial provisions in the elections section of the bill include allowing felons to vote before they’ve finished serving their full sentence, and automatically registering people to vote when they apply for a driver’s license, which could result in thousands of people being improperly registered to vote, like it did in California.
Shared Parenting Amendment
Possibly the most disgraceful thing that happened last week was the DFL arm-twisting that happened on an amendment with bipartisan support. Rep. Peggy Scott brought an amendment to the Public Safety and Judiciary bill changing the way the courts determine parenting time so that both parents start at a 50% presumption, finally giving caring loving fathers a fair shake. Unfortunately, DFL leadership forced that amendment to fail after there were clearly 71 yes votes on the board. They kept the board open for much longer than normal, and twisted several of their members’ arms to switch their votes to no. Below, I’ve linked a video of my speech, with the video of the voting board at the end so you can see for yourself what happened. The blatant disregard for the legislative process and the support Rep. Scott earned for her amendment is absolutely shameful.
As always, if you need assistance on an issue pertaining to state government or have concerns or ideas about legislation, my office is available to you. You can e-mail at Rep.Marion.ONeill@House.MN or call my office at 651-296-5063. You can also write a letter to me. My office address at the Capitol is 357 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, St. Paul, MN 55155.