Dear Friends and Neighbors,
An updated budget forecast and gun control bills were among the newsmakers at the State Capitol this week.
NEW BUDGET FORECAST: A $1.5 BILLION SURPLUS
On Thursday Minnesota’s fiscal experts gave lawmakers their latest update on our economic condition, and the news is positive. Our latest budget projection shows Minnesota now has a $1.5 billion surplus, which is $200 million more than was projected last December.
My position is that the majority of this windfall should go back to Minnesotans, especially since our rainy day fund is at 100% funding capacity. I believe we do need to put money into our empty disaster relief fund, but once that priority is met we should return the surplus to the taxpayers. I’ll have more on that next week.
DISASTER FUNDING BILL MOVING FORWARD
Speaking of our empty disaster relief fund, this week a proposal that would allocate $30 million to it was approved in our House Greater Minnesota Jobs and Economic Development Finance Division.
As communities along the Mississippi River know, when the high flood waters leave their banks the damage left behind is tremendous. Minnesota’s Disaster Assistance Contingency Account was created to allocate funds to communities impacted by natural disasters and to avoid calling special sessions to authorize the appropriation of these funds. With a $1.5 billion surplus and the expectation of flooding again this spring, there’s no reason not to put needed funds back into this account as soon as possible.
HOUSE MAJORITY APPROVES TWO GUN CONTROL BILLS
The House debated and voted on two controversial gun control bills on Thursday evening. The first would impose new requirements on firearm transfers between private parties and create strict barriers for law-abiding gunowners. The other would create a process in which family members, friends, or an attorney could petition for an “extreme risk protection order” to prohibit someone from possessing firearms. This could infringe on due process rights by never allowing gunowners to defend themselves in court.
I voted against each of these bills. While our country certainly faces gun violence problems, I don’t believe these bills would truly solve these problems or keep guns away from criminals who already don’t follow the law. I have heard from countless law-abiding gunowners in our community about this issue, and I believe these bills would only put more constraints on their constitutional rights.
Many constituents from Goodhue and Wabasha counties visited my office this week. It’s always good to hear from the people I represent.
I always enjoy meeting with residents from ARC Minnesota. The organization promotes and protects the human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Student Sydney Ziemer from Red Wing visited as part of Career and Technical Education Month.
It was also fun to talk with Red Wing student Hannah Rodgers. She now attends St Scholastica and was at the Capitol today advocating for the state grant program that assists many students with college costs.
Jennifer Cook of the Red Wing HRA stopped by to discuss housing issues.
I also chatted with Mary Vogel, who works with Wabasha Main Street.
It was great to see friends from the Lake City Chamber and hear directly from them about issues that impact the business vitality of our communities. I continue to fight against the mandates and tax increases on small businesses that are put forward by the House majority.
Thank you Chamber members for making your voice heard!
Lake City bus driver Doug Grisim was also in St. Paul to participate in Senate hearings regarding stop arm violations. As Minnesota School Bus Driver Appreciation Day took place this week, I’d like to thank Doug and all of our school bus drivers for their dedication towards transporting our kids safely to school every day.
STAYING IN TOUCH
As always, if you have questions or concerns regarding any issue, please contact me. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-296-8635.