It’s been another busy week in St. Paul as we have debated and voted on eight omnibus finance bills. Here is a brief recap of some of the bills that were approved this week.
On Monday, we voted on the Education Finance and Policy bill. The bill passed on a mostly party-line vote of 73-60. I voted “no” on the bill for several reasons.
Perhaps the main reason I voted against this bill is because it included zero provisions to re-open schools or prioritize the return of students to in-person learning as quickly as possible.
After more than a year, it’s crystal clear that students need to get back in the classroom full-time, and start the work of catching up after more than 12 months of learning loss. It was incredibly disappointing that Democrats did not address this in their education bill.
Other issues included:
- The bill by the Administration’s admission is focused on “equity and inclusion” rather than high standards and focused academics.
- Prioritizes bureaucracy over students as schools receive 2% and 2% on the funding formula while bureaucrats receive a 10% increase in funding.
- Rolls back reforms to the Tiered Licensing System and closes off pathways for teachers of color to enter and remain in the classroom.
- Puts more mandates on school districts that crowd out local control without any added flexibility and includes student disciplinary provisions that are too restrictive, hindering teachers’ ability to maintain classroom discipline.
- Forces more good teachers out of the classroom by restoring “Last in, First Out” to state law by creating an exemption to a seniority-based leave policy.
I am hopeful that the bill will be much improved after it returns from conference committee with the Senate Republican majority and that I will be able to support it on final passage.
On Tuesday, we debated and voted on the Jobs/Economic Development omnibus bill.
Instead of helping small businesses and job creators that have struggled from forced closures, Democrats’ Jobs/Economic Development bill would implement burdensome regulations that will make it much more difficult for Minnesota businesses to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. We should be helping businesses by passing Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) relief, not imposing new mandates.
The Commerce/Energy bill, approved on Wednesday, will make health care and energy bills more expensive for Minnesota families. It fails to extend Minnesota’s nation-leading, bipartisan reinsurance program and imposes more costly mandates and prescriptive bureaucracy while limiting our energy options.
Public Safety/Judiciary Bill
The Public Safety/Judiciary bill was debated, voted on, and passed Wednesday.
Yet again, I voted “no” on this bill.
My opposition to this bill was based in the reality that this legislation runs counter to public safety, is hostile to law enforcement, and will inhibit the recruitment and retention of peace officers statewide. All while letting criminals off with lighter sentences than courts imposed and hiding their records from the public.
This bill would be a step backwards and make our communities less safe.
On Thursday, we voted on the Taxes omnibus bill. This bill raises taxes by more than $1 billion over the next two years at a time when Minnesota has a $4 billion budget surplus. This is the wrong approach for Minnesota and will only serve to slow the state’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The bill also fails to fully exempt the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) from state taxes—instead, capping relief at $350,000. This means that many businesses will still be taxed on forgiven PPP loans that were used to pay employees and keep their doors open during a difficult year.
This bill was an easy “no” vote for me.
Staying in Touch
Please be sure to reach out to me if you have any questions on these bills or any other that were voted on this week. It would be great to speak with you!
I can be reached by phone at 651-296-4293 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a great weekend,