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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Ben Bakeberg (R)

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Legislative Update 4.12.24

Friday, April 12, 2024

Dear Friends and Neighbors, 


I hope this message finds you well and you’re enjoying the emerging spring. As your representative, it's important to me that you stay informed about the work being done on your behalf at the Capitol. We've had a busy session addressing a range of issues that directly impact our community and the state at large that I can’t wait to share with you. This week I want to discuss a project I sponsored to invest in our community, the partisan Elections Omnibus Bill, school budgets, and a bipartisan public safety bill. 

The Prior Lake Outlet Channel is an important project for our area.  This fall, members of the bonding committee heard about the details of this bill and I recently had a productive meeting with the chair of the Capital Investment Committee petitioning to get this project included in the final bill.  I’m happy to continue working with local leaders to fund crucial infrastructure projects in our community. If funded, this project will make major improvements to the Prior Lake Outlet Channel.  Please look at this flyer for details.

On Tuesday we heard the DFL’s controversial Elections Omnibus Bill on the House Floor. This bill has been a significant topic of discussion because it proposes several changes to our voting system, including allowing same-day voter registration without a verified permanent address and failing to require provisional ballots like 48 other states. While the intent is to make voting more accessible, these changes (like allowing voters to register with the general description of where their home is instead of a recognized address) raise concerns about the potential for errors and misuse, which could undermine trust in our electoral outcomes. It’s also important to note that Minnesota and Idaho are the only two states left in the country without provisional ballots. 

During the debates, House Republicans proposed amendments aimed at enhancing the security of our elections by providing guardrails around absentee ballots and their chain of custody. Despite our efforts, these amendments were not adopted, and the bill was passed on a party-line vote. 

Minnesota has a long history of passing bipartisan elections bills, so I was disappointed that the majority broke this tradition for the second year in a row. Ensuring the integrity of our electoral process is paramount, and as such, I will continue to advocate for measures that protect every citizen's right to a fair and secure vote. 

In the realm of education, our schools are facing ongoing financial challenges despite last session's funding increase. While the funding was “historic," schools have been saddled with over 65 new mandates, limiting flexibility in how funding is spent at the local level. As a suburban district, we understand that our educational demands may differ significantly from those in rural or urban areas. It's essential that funding flexibility is considered in future legislative sessions so that money allocated for education can be used effectively to enhance student learning and support our dedicated educators. 

On a positive note, this week also saw a bipartisan victory with the passage of a new public safety bill. This legislation, which I was proud to support, was the result of collaborative efforts across the aisle and does not include controversial measures like gun control, which often stall in partisan gridlock. Instead, the bill focuses on commonsense measures from both parties that improve public safety in our community. These steps are crucial for maintaining the safety and security of our communities, and I am pleased to report that we were able to come together to prioritize the well-being of our citizens over politics. 

As we move forward into the final weeks of the 2024 Legislative Session, I want to stress the importance of engagement and dialogue. The decisions made at the Capitol have real-world impacts on all of us, and your input is invaluable as we navigate these complex issues. Whether it's concerns about voting laws, education funding, or how we keep our neighborhoods safe, I am here to listen and to take your thoughts back to St. Paul.