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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Matt Bliss (R)

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Legislative update

Friday, March 1, 2024

Dear Neighbor,

Greetings from St. Paul as we near the end of another busy week at the Capitol.

Before we get to official legislative business, I want to offer condolences to the friends, family and co-workers of the Burnsville heroes who recently were killed in the line of duty. The vast outpouring of support for these three men at their memorial this week was incredible to see, with 10,000 or more in attendance. May the legacies of Officer Matthew Ruge, Officer Paul Elmstrand, and Firefighter/Paramedic Adam Finseth endure for all of time.

State economic forecast

The state issued a new economic forecast for Minnesota Thursday, with a looming $1.5 billion shortfall through 2027 overshadowing a $3.715 billion surplus for the current biennium. This clearly indicates a more balanced approach is needed in St. Paul.

The state budget Democrats created with full control of the Legislature has led us from a $17.5 billion surplus to a projected shortfall in less than one year. Just let that sink in for a minute. They spent the $17.5 billion surplus, raised taxes by $10 billion and increased state spending by 40 percent at a time Minnesotans already were facing record price increases.

This path the majority put us on simply won’t work. It’s reckless and unaffordable and just proves we need more balance at the Capitol. The party in control promised a quick tax bill fix, a full elimination of the tax on Social Security, and $2000 rebate checks for Minnesotans. Regardless of the forecast numbers, they need to honor those promises instead of continuing to break them.

Anti-Second Amendment bills

House committee hearings took place this week for two anti-Second Amendment bills.

The bills are H.F. 601 – Her, arbitrary deadline for reporting for lost and stolen firearms; and H.F. 4300 – Becker-Finn, regarding firearm storage. Both proposals seem to do more to criminalize good-faith, law-abiding gun owners than to crack down on the repeat criminals and other true bad actors our courts continue putting back on the street.

Rep. Her’s bill puts the onus on the victim of a crime to file a report to law enforcement within the government’s definition of reasonable time – 48 hours. If you are the victim of a firearm theft, and the perpetrator of that crime commits another crime with your stolen weapon, the bill stipulates that you may be held responsible. If I, as a hunter, clean my gun and lock it up in the safe, do I now have to check on it every 48 hours to make sure it’s still there to fully comply with this proposal?

Rep. Becker-Finn’s bill requires a person to either store a firearm not in the person’s direct control in a safe or unloaded with a locking device.  There are criminal penalties for failing to comply with the firearm storage requirements. It is interesting that, on the same day the DFL introduced this bill making it a crime if a law-abiding firearm owner does not unload a firearm and secure it with a locking device in the person’s home, the DFL also introduced a bill (HF4277) that repeals mandatory minimum sentences for violent crimes involving the possession or use of a firearm.

This bill flies in the face of the District of Columbia vs. Heller decision, which ruled a handgun ban and requirement that lawfully owned rifles and shotguns be kept "unloaded and disassembled or bound by a trigger lock" violates the Second Amendment.

I don’t see a need for these bills. It is misguided to crack down on gun owners who honor our laws and act in good faith instead of going after the real criminals. In fact, actual perpetrators of such crimes are increasingly released back out onto the street under laws passed by Democrats in 2023 … and bills they continue pushing today. Instead, we should be looking at other solutions such as enforcing current laws and heightening penalties for straw-man purchases and other crimes committed by the true bad actors.

On the radar

Land transfer: A House bill (H.F. 4304) would transfer 43,000 acres of state-owned land from White Earth State Forest to the White Earth Band of Ojibwe. There are a lot of layers to this issue and I am currently meeting with local constituents to hear their viewpoints.

Equal Rights Amendment: On the surface, an ERA bill in the House seems harmless and, over the past 100 years, we have worked the spirit of the bill into existing statute. Furthermore, Republicans operate under the assumption that all Minnesotans are already equal. Nobody is less equal. This new bill, however, takes things to a whole new level with Democrats co-opting the ERA to make it part of their extreme agenda that would make Minnesotans uncomfortable. Stay tuned for more as this issue develops.

Stay tuned for more from the House soon. Until then, keep an eye on your guns and your wallet as long as this one-party rule has control in St. Paul.



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