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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Jeremy Munson (R)

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Saturday, March 6, 2021

Just as we started to thaw out from the polar vortex things have started to heat up in the legislature. Over the past couple of weeks, we have had a flood of bill hearings on everything from the rising prices of natural gas, to creating government interference in the prescription drug market. Just last week we saw another attempt to end the Governor's Emergency Powers. The debate was filled with pleas from fellow legislators to - at the very least - ease the restrictions on the nearly decimated hotel/convention and wedding industries. On the heels of the New York's legislature stepping in to restore the balance of power, it's time Minnesota does the same. Yet through the gridlock, I have received a hearing on another bill I chief authored; The Food Freedom Act.


Food Freedom

Munson Real FFA


As Minnesotans recover from the pandemic and realize we have some new bad habits to curtail, we should also look back on some of the good. Farmers’ markets have become invaluable open-air places to shop for many. Introducing them to many local homemade brands. Unfortunately getting that food to the market is not as easy as one may think in Minnesota. 

Home-based food businesses are just another way we can create jobs and expand access to local food if they are not limited by unnecessary regulations.

Existing law limits “cottage'' food producers to selling only non-potentially hazardous food at only a few places: from their homes, direct-to-consumer, or at farmers’ markets and community events. It also arbitrarily caps cottage food producers’ income at $18,000 in gross sales before they must spend hundreds of thousands of dollars building a commercial kitchen approved by the Dept of Ag. With the typical cottage food producer-only keeping about 40% of their gross sales, many are looking at an annual income of only $7,200. This basically grants a monopoly to major manufacturers who can handle the exuberant costs associated with the inspection and licensing process. Minnesota’s law is one of the least progressive cottage food laws in the country. 

This bill is modeled after successful food freedom laws that have been in effect for several years now across the country. Wyoming, North Dakota, Utah, and Maine have food freedom laws, and there have been no reported increase of foodborne illness. These states have safely expanded their cottage food laws while creating a lot of opportunities for entrepreneurs and increasing access to local food. 

Some licensed food establishments oppose exempting home-based producers from food

establishment licensing. They think that if they had to jump through hoops, home-based

producers should have to as well. I see this action frequently in St Paul, where established businesses advocate for more regulations to block new entrants to their industry. We should be encouraging more people to create jobs, and not allow large businesses to use the government for protection.

The latest Budget Forecast


While the house still remains stuck in gridlock we had a glimpse into the upcoming battle of the budget. The MMB released its forecast which put us at a $1.6 billion surplus. While this may only be momentary inflation since we are receiving $300 million in federal aid, we should use this as an excuse to create more Government programs to spend your money on. If you want to learn more, watch the video HERE as the Members of the New House Republican Caucus break down what this means for the average Minnesotan. 

While I am glad to see that the economic picture in Minnesota is improving these numbers do not show the full story. The $1.6 billion surplus is simply the result of the federal government's irresponsible borrowing practices over the last year. Unsurprisingly, the State income tax revenue will increase, since the federal government gave away trillions of dollars of taxpayer money in the form of stimulus checks and increased unemployment benefits. Since the state of Minnesota taxes this as income we are seeing only momentary inflation and not a true surplus. 

The stimulus money was given for people to stay afloat and pay their bills. In reality, Minnesotans chose instead to purchase taxable goods like TVs, boats, and cars over non-taxable goods like groceries, rent/mortgages, and credit cards. This explains why sales tax revenue far exceeded the forecast. 

Hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans received weekly $600 bonus checks above the normal unemployment payments. This frequently paid them more income than they would have received if they were employed. Some would have received nearly $1,200 a week on the program. In Minnesota, the state government taxes that money as income. This additional income tax also exceeded the State's initial forecast.

Additionally, the Governor shut down all non-essential medical care last Spring, preventing hundreds of thousands of visits to dentists, clinics, and hospitals. Most Minnesotans are on Government-funded health insurance, therefore the State of Minnesota saved over a billion dollars by denying people care.

The State budgeting process is complex, but the most important aspect to understand is that the budget forecast still projects a deficit for the next biennium for only one reason: because Republicans and Democrats have agreed to increase Government spending. If we simply kept all Government spending the same for the next budget, we would have a more than three billion dollar surplus to return to taxpayers. Minnesota families and small businesses are hurting. They don't get to automatically increase their spending by 5% this year and neither should the Government. 

The long-term economic damage caused by the Governor’s shutdowns will last far into the future. We cannot depend on bailouts from the federal government to maintain a balanced budget and strong economy. Waiting on stimulus money from Washington politicians is not a strategy for economic growth. Governor Walz needs to reopen Minnesota and give people the opportunity to succeed. Our economy, our tax revenues, and the well-being of every Minnesotan will be in a better place if we reopen.

You can watch my breakdown of the Give it Back Act below.

Munson FFA


Natural Gas Spikes; How it Impacts your Energy Bill

Last week there was a joint hearing between the Senate and the House Climate and Energy Finance and Policy Committees. They meet to discuss the recent spike in the cost of natural gas that was seen across the nation during the February polar vortex and how this will impact Minnesotans.  I made the following statement:

“Today we learned in the joint committee on Climate and Energy just how important natural gas is to Minnesota. During the month of January, we stayed below 0 degrees for nearly 2 weeks in parts of the state, with lows up on the range of -50. This put an incredible amount of strain on the natural gas systems in our state. Fortunately, according to Centerpoint and Xcel Energy we here in Minnesota prepared for these weather conditions. Reports of minor roaming blackouts in western Minnesota were due to failures of the wells that supplied the gas. Many of these wells froze-up which caused supply issues when demand was at its highest. 

Many people across the south began receiving bills for the month which showed costs of thousands of dollars. The reason for this all ties back to the wells which froze. Because of issues with the supply of natural gas, and the failure of many other ill-equipped sources like wind and solar, we saw the massive multi-day blackouts across the south. 

Fortunately for Minnesota, we have what is called a blended cost system that our utility providers use. Many of us use what are called fixed rates for our energy bills. This ensures consistency and cuts down on the fluctuating costs between winter and summer. The downside is when energy consumption is lowest you still pay a fixed rate. On the other side of the coin is called the “spot” market which is where energy is sold to different providers. This is also where we saw the massive price increases this past week. Because we have a split system in Minnesota we have “stockpiles” of energy to ensure we can maintain those fixed rates. This past cold snap we used all of our natural gas for the year and were forced to supplement that with gas purchased on the “spot” market. Additionally, many of our municipal energy supplies used all of their reserve funds to purchase more natural gas to heat our homes. 

Both of these factors combined means that Minnesotans would see an increase of $200 - $400 on their utility bill. However, the major energy providers in Minnesota plan to distribute these costs over the next 6-12 months. This means the cost increase ratepayers will see will be around $20-$30 per month. While this may be a burden to them, especially for those on fixed incomes, we are fortunate to have not had any major failures to the system. These extra surcharges will go directly back into maintaining these companies' natural gas lines to ensure we never have to worry about the heat going out.

Vaccination Update


Last Thursday, the Minnesota Department of Health announced a new tool for all Minnesotans to sign up to receive an alert when there is a vaccine available to them — regardless if they are currently eligible to receive one.

The "Vaccine Connector" is a tool for all Minnesotans who have not yet been vaccinated – the Vaccine Connector will notify you when it’s your turn for a shot.

You don’t need to sign up if:

  • You have already received your COVID-19 vaccine.
  • You previously registered for our COVID-19 Vaccine Pilot Program or the COVID-19 Community Vaccination Program.
  • You completed the Minnesota COVID-19 Vaccine Education and Child Care survey.

The Minnesota COVID-19 Vaccine Connector will get you information about when, where, and how you can get the vaccine.

It’s important to note that if you are eligible to get vaccinated right now, you do not have to wait for information from the Minnesota COVID-19 Vaccine Connector before you get your shot. If your healthcare provider or employer contacts you about making an appointment, or if you have another opportunity to get vaccinated, you can and should do that. Hy-Vee locations across Minnesota are now going to be offering COVID-19 Vaccines. They will be part of the Vaccine Connector, but you can also sign up to receive updates from Hy-Vee when they will have vaccines here.

On the national front, vaccines are being manufactured and administered faster than ever and in a recent Wall Street Journal article Dr. Marty Makary, who is a professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Bloomberg School of Public Health, makes the case that we'll have herd immunity by April and the worst of the pandemic is over.










Thank you for being engaged in Government,


Jeremy Munson

State Representative, 23B


If you have any questions regarding COVID-19, please don’t hesitate to contact me or my office. We are still attempting to provide regular contact remotely so if you have other needs, please email my Legislative Assistant, Grayson, at

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