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

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Legislative News from Rep. Peggy Bennett

Friday, May 3, 2024

Dear Friends,


This week has been a marathon week of hearing the majority’s large omnibus bills which they brought to the floor, as well as some individual bills. Every day we spent 12 or 13 hours debating their proposals. 


We heard bills on transportation, education finance, labor, housing, early childhood, guns, and more. There was some good and bad in all the omnibus bills.  Sadly, most contained new spending that would likely add more to our coming deficit. I voted no on those bills.


I will touch on a few items of concern contained in some of these bills below.  There is still more in the legislative process before these potentially become law - passage by the Senate and conference committee work.  I hope that these concerning provisions and more will be removed or sufficiently altered before the end of session.



The Minnesota energy code for new homes was modified in the huge omnibus bill.  Under this provision, new homes must meet the 70% reduction in energy consumption target which is current law for commercial buildings.  Minnesota is already a “leader” in housing costs. This provision would put building a new home out of reach for the majority of Minnesota citizens.


This proposal also requires Metro Transit to implement zero emission/electric buses. Within 5 years, 50% of its fleet should be electric, and in ten years every bus should be electric. When factoring in new buses, new charging stations, and bigger garages to house the buses and charging equipment, ten-year costs to implement this plan are estimated at $6.5 billion.



After forcing 65 new mandates on Minnesota’s schools last session, the legislative majority added even MORE new mandates for schools in these bills. Though schools received a ton of new funding last session, many have been forced into operating deficits and are now cutting staff due to the cost of these mandates. 


Less than half of Minnesota students are able to read at grade level. Kids who can’t read cannot learn. Yet, this majority and Governor Walz are obsessed with mandates and “banning book bans” legislation, which is such a distraction from the real problem of reading proficiency. I brought up this very point in the education policy conference committee, which you can view here. 


We should jettison all these new mandates and give teachers the time and resources to get to teaching the basics like literacy.



I am all for a clean environment.  But this bill?  No. Here are a few ridiculous elements in this omnibus bill. This one takes first place:  $400,000 (taken from the Natural Resources fund) for a swimming pool in the DFL Chair’s district. (Hmmm… swimming pool = clean environment?)  Second place for wasting your tax dollars:  Remember the $4 million set aside last year so taxpayers could provide rebates for those who want to buy electric bicycles?  Well, this year you get to spend an additional $1 million to give rebates to people who want to buy electric lawn mowers and snowblowers - only for those who live in the 7-county metro area. I could go on, but I won’t take the chance of increasing your blood pressure any more than it has.



Three bills that target Minnesota’s law-abiding gun owners were also approved by the House majority this week. The first proposal would force a person who had their gun stolen to report the firearm was missing within 48 hours, meaning the victim of this crime could theoretically be charged themselves if they make a mistake with this timing. Another bill includes an expanded definition of trigger activators, which may impact some commonly used guns, and the final initiative places additional firearm storage burdens on all law-abiding firearm owners, including off-duty police officers. I voted ‘no’ on all three of these bills. To watch my floor speech during one of the debates, click here. 


Are they trying to make it difficult for law abiding citizens to protect themselves in their homes, including the tens of thousands of women gun owners like me? These three laws will do nothing to fix the problems we have.  They just add new prohibitions on law abiding citizens while criminals get away with just about everything right now. It’s rather ironic that on same day Democrats introduced one of these bills they also introduced a bill that would repeal the mandatory minimum sentences for violent crimes involving possession or use of a firearm. Unreal.



As we continue our debate on omnibus spending bills, remember this: last session, the Democrat majority and governor went on a spending spree that took the entire $18 billion surplus and raised an additional $10 billion in taxes on top of that. They increased our government budget by FORTY PERCENT.  In other words, government got a forty percent raise.  Did your personal budget get a raise like that - or even any raise? Sadly, this reckless spending has now set our state up for a budget deficit beginning next year. 


As I said at the beginning of this session, legislators need to show fiscal restraint and responsibility this year so we don’t increase our looming deficit. This is not a budget year. That was last year. We already more than fully funded government. 


I will not support new general budget spending unless it’s for a crisis situation or for one time spending on things like water infrastructure that would help local communities afford life. Deficits put into jeopardy core government functions like education and care for the most vulnerable and I refuse to add to that deficit.



Thursday marked the annual date of the National Day of Prayer. This event always brings a large group of Minnesotans to the State Capitol. It always serves as a good reminder – especially during these trying times at both the state and national levels – that prayer is so important not only for one day a year, but every day.


Have a good weekend,