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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Walter Hudson (R)

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Legislative update

Friday, April 21, 2023

Dear Neighbor,

House Democrats have established a trend this session by continuing to pass bills the general public is not asking for and no legislators championed last fall or even publicly addressed, to the best of my knowledge.

Nobody asked for a 75-cent state tax to be added to deliveries from Amazon or the pizza guy. Nobody asked for increased fees on license tabs or motor vehicle sales, or for a ¾-cent increase to the metro sales tax for transit. Nor, did I hear Democrats promise they would deliver these things to the public, but that’s what they did by voting to approve their omnibus transportation bill this week.

I also don’t recall anyone asking for higher energy prices – or Democrats pledging to make them happen. But, here they are this session, approving a bill estimated to cost families nearly $3,900 per family per year, undermining the affordability, reliability and safety most people actually want from our energy grid.

Here is another glaring and currently developing example of something nobody – outside of a few special-interest types – wants, but Democrats in St. Paul are doing: House Democrat legislation would effectively end electronic pull tabs as we know them, dramatically reducing revenue generated for local charities and other organizations.

Language in the majority’s omnibus tax bill (H.F. 1938) eliminates the “open all” feature that has been in use in electronic pull-tab games for years. Banning this feature would diminish charitable gaming funds these popular games produce, stifling a critical revenue source for local charities ranging from veteran organizations to youth sports teams, Main Street business partners and beyond.

Democrats would deny communities throughout Minnesota the ability to effectively fundraise for athletics, public safety, food shelves, and veterans, all to provide a political kickback to their tribal patrons. It is a provision Democrats slipped into the bill very late in the process – literally stealing from our children and the rest of us who benefit from services provided by these civic organizations.

I stood proudly in support of the Indian Family Preservation Act earlier this session, as did my Republican colleagues, because we believed it was the right thing to do. Denying communities their ability to fundraise is not the right thing to do. Democrats should be ashamed.

In 2022 alone, electronic pull tabs generated almost $2 billion in revenue that was then invested into communities. Without this critical revenue stream, much of the charitable efforts Minnesotans currently benefit from would not be possible.

The damage that would be caused by this provision not only threatens local charities, but also would deal a blow to bars and restaurants in our communities. The last thing people need amid today’s rampant price increases and workforce shortages is for Democrats to cut them off at the knees by stifling a valuable source of revenue.

Much has been said regarding “threats to democracy.” The actual threat is to our social cohesion, our sense of community, our trust in institutions. That threat won't be addressed by laws. It will take principle, true allegiance “to the republic for which it ???? stands.”

This concept clearly is lost on Democrats, who continue lacking allegiance to the greater republic with each radical bill they pass because it’s what they – not the public in general – want.

Bipartisan veterans bill approved

The House this week approved a veterans and military affairs finance package (H.F. 1937) which funds Minnesota’s National Guard members and veterans after their service to our state and nation concludes, with omnibus appropriations for the state’s next two-year budget cycle. It passed on a 131-0 vote and is now in the hands of the Senate.

Overall, it provides $367.7 million for programs to help veterans over the 2024-25 biennium, a $167 million (52%) increase. This includes $73.3 million for the Dept. of Military Affairs and $294.3 million for the Dept. of Veterans Affairs. Operational funding for three new veterans homes the state has constructed also is provided.

Veterans are a top priority and it’s good to see such broad, bipartisan support on this bill. It provides a peak of hope at a time we need more of those and fewer pits of cynicism. The House made a choice to put the good of people in our state – in this case, veterans – above partisanship and scoring political points. It’s an example of legislative honesty at a time we are seeing so many dishonest proposals – as mentioned previously – with the Democrat majority just doing something they want despite a lack of buy-in from the general public.

Until next time, have a good weekend and please stay in touch.