This is the point of the legislative session at which "omnibus bills" on a variety of topics are being brought to the House floor by the Republican majority, to begin negotiations with the Senate and Governor Dayton. I'll try to send regular updates - with some broad thoughts - as many of these bills as they move through the process. But first, some info about an important event tomorrow...
Rally Tomorrow at the Capitol in Support of Education Funding
When: Tomorrow (Saturday) at 10:45am
Where: In front of the State Capitol (100 Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, St. Paul, MN 55155)
What: Tomorrow, the Minnesota House will vote on a bill that some are calling the “Leave All Minnesota Kids Behind” Act.
The House Republican budget contains $2 billion in tax giveaways, much that will benefit corporate special interests. At the same time, they're proposing a less than 1% increase to Minnesota schools. This is a 15 to 1 ratio. Our schools have told us the impact will be teacher layoffs and larger classroom sizes. We can do so much better for our kids!
Please join me tomorrow (Saturday) at 10:45 a.m. in front of the State Capitol for a rally with teachers, parents, and kids. Together, we need to send the message that our kids’ future should be our top priority – not corporate tax cuts.
Jobs and Energy Omnibus Bill Passes House
On Wednesday, the Jobs and Energy omnibus bill passed the House on a nearly party-line vote. I voted against the bill. I'm disappointed to say that it reverses course on decades of progress made on job creation, economic development, workforce housing, and clean and renewable energy. It also repeals or weakens a number of provisions beneficial to workers and consumers in Minnesota. The bill is more than $60 million short of what Governor Dayton and the Senate are proposing, so it’s full of cuts to programs vital to Minnesotans.
Among many other concerns, the bill would reduce funding for job retraining, job creation, the creation of affordable housing, and the development of broadband throughout the state; lower the wages of tipped employees; and undermine our state's booming export sector by shuttering our trade offices in South Korea, Brazil and Germany. The bill would also cut programs that keep Minnesotans from becoming homeless - particularly concerning at a time of surplus.
On top of the provisions relating to jobs, housing, and economic development, the bill also gives up on clean and renewable energy. It severely weakens our state's highly successful and nation-leading renewable energy standard - established in 2007 with bipartisan support, paves the way for more coal-fired power plants, and removes "net-metering" rules which encourage small-scale generation of wind and solar power.
One of the most disappointing moments of Wednesday's debate came when nearly all House Republicans voted against language - intended to guide policy - acknowledging that climate change is real and is caused by human activity. Unfortunately, the full bill that passed is consistent with this stance in failing to take the climate-change threat seriously.
I hope that many of these provisions will be improved as the Senate and Governor Dayton weigh in.
This evening, the House is considering omnibus bills on the environment and state government finance, with the omnibus bill on K-12 education scheduled for tomorrow (Saturday) and many others scheduled for next week. I'll do my best to continue to keep you posted.
State Representative, District 64B
321 State Office Building