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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Peggy Bennett (R)

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Legislative News from Rep. Peggy Bennett

Friday, February 24, 2023

Dear Friends,


I hope you stayed safe and warm during the massive snowstorm that hit our state. House leadership heeded the warnings of the weather experts and closed our offices from Wednesday to Friday. I was able to get back to my home in Albert Lea before the worst of the storm hit and operate remotely for the rest of the week to meet with constituents and others. That said, we did have a longer floor session on Monday and I’ve highlighted two of those bills below.



On Monday evening, Democrats passed a bill that will make it illegal for a mental health professional in Minnesota to provide any type of mental health counseling to a client under 18 (or vulnerable adult) that would “seek to change an individual's sexual orientation or gender identity.” This ban includes any efforts to “change behaviors or gender expressions or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same gender.” Mental health practitioners will be threatened with loss of license for breaking this law.


I have great concerns with this legislation. Why would we ban counseling and therapy opportunities for children?  


The brain is an incredibly complex organ and is not fully developed until approximately age 25. Children, teens, and young adults in this age group do not have a fully developed prefrontal cortex. That’s a scientific fact. This is the area of the brain that performs reasoning, planning, judgement, and impulse control. This developmentally immature brain greatly impacts young people’s decision-making processes, along with their perceptions of themselves and the world.


This is exactly why cognitive scientists are sounding the alarm about marijuana use for young people under the age of 25. These scientists know full well that these young brains are still developing and that marijuana permanently harms those developing brains. Developing brains are vulnerable. 


I know many girls who, when they were young, wanted to play with boys and later became beautiful women. Is it possible that a little girl grows up watching her mother be berated and abused by her father and she concludes that she doesn’t want to be a girl anymore because of what she’s seen? Should she get counseling to work through her issues?  


What if a little boy is sexually abused by men and now struggles with his sexual identity? This happens more than we would like to admit. Would we deny the opportunity for that boy to receive the counseling and therapy he needs?


How many children are coerced or influenced by peer pressure to say they are a boy or a girl? Counseling should be allowed so children can work through their feelings.


There are rare occasions where we hear of gender or sexual orientation therapy that involves verbally berating a child or, perish the thought, using electric shock. That is abuse and should never be allowed. I would gladly sign onto and support legislation that bans those abusive practices. However, this bill pushes the ban to an extreme by outlawing all types of mental health therapy under the umbrella of this subject, including simple counseling or talk therapy.


Those of us in the education and psychology fields know how important early intervention is. This bill goes too far. I will not deny a child the opportunity for counseling by a mental health professional if needed. I voted NO on this legislation.



A few weeks ago, I discussed the problem of catalytic converter thefts. Many Minnesota communities have been experiencing rising thefts of this expensive auto part. 

As I had mentioned, I worked with local law enforcement and sponsored legislation to help deal with this problem. My bill would make possession of an unauthorized catalytic converter a crime to help combat the problem. It would make it a misdemeanor offense to possess a used catalytic converter that is not attached to a motor vehicle unless it was marked with a date of removal and the vehicle’s ID number, or it is has been certified for reuse as a replacement part by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The crime would become a gross misdemeanor if the person possessed more than one catalytic converter. Anyone convicted of the crime would also be forced to pay restitution to any identifiable victim.


On Monday, the Minnesota House passed DFL authored legislation that is similar to mine but not identical. This plan requires the same converter labeling, makes it a crime for a person to possess a detached catalytic converter that was not legally removed, and includes a restitution provision. It adds a few additional provisions including some restrictions on scrap yards. 


I felt this was a good bill and will hopefully help curb these rampant thefts. It is supported by the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association, and scrapyard businesses agreed they could work with the additional requirements. I voted YES on this bill.



It was so nice to see local board members from the Freeborn-Mower and Steele County electric coops at the Capitol this week.



I always learn a lot from them about our power grid and issues that affect something that everyone needs: electricity. Thank you for coming to educate legislators about this very important subject!


Have a good weekend!