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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Nolan West (R)

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Legislative update

Friday, May 3, 2024

Hello from the Capitol!

Monday brings us to the final two full weeks of the legislative session. I’ve been here at the Capitol 18 hours a day all week. While I wish I had more time to sleep, I do enjoy the work.

Much of the House’s work has centered on the majority’s omnibus finance bills. While being in the Minority makes it difficult to get bills through or amendments adopted, I have had some success lately. In the education finance bill, I got a significant amendment adopted to root out fraud in state spending. My amendment provides the newly created Office of the Inspector General with the tools it needs to do its job rooting out fraud. I started working on this early this session when the Inspector General testified before our committee that he couldn’t do his job with the insufficient legislation passed last year.

This is important because when the state was flush with COVID stimulus funds, the Department of Education lost $250 million to fraudsters in the Feeding our Future Scandal. This was eminently avoidable, and there is certainly pervasive fraud throughout the litany of non-profits receiving taxpayer dollars from the state. So far, 70 people have been charged and 18 have plead guilty in the Feeding our Future Scandal alone. Our state budget increased by around 40% in the last budget, so investigating fraud is more important than ever.

We still have some important issues to get through in the waning days of this session. We need to pass Rep. Elliott Engen’s bill that would prevent Uber and Lyft from leaving Minneapolis, stop the casinos’ retaliatory prohibition on historic horse racing from happening, and prevent reckless new gun control bills that only serve to punish law-abiding gun owners.

We should be focusing on bipartisan legislation from here on out this session. My amendment getting $1 million for Hwy 65 was included in the Transportation Omnibus bill thanks to good, bipartisan work with Rep. Erin Koegle. I will be working to make sure funding for that project remains included when the bill comes back for a vote on final approval.

Legislators always should strive for bipartisanship, and there is more common ground than people realize. This session, bipartisanship is especially important in light of a Senator facing first-degree felony burglary charges. Democrats have a one-seat majority in the Senate, and the Legislature should not be passing partisan bills where a Senator facing felony burglary charges is the deciding vote.

Let’s do the work the vast majority of Minnesotans want and let the hyper-partisan bills fall by the wayside.



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