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

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Legislative update

Friday, April 28, 2023

Dear Neighbor,

If you cherish and appreciate your constitutional rights – particularly the First and Second amendments – you’re going to want to read this newsletter because Democrats this week approved a public safety bill that undermines both. Here is a look at that issue and other recent notes:

Constitutional rights under siege

The House majority this week passed a public safety bill (S.F. 2909) which includes provisions of major concern for both our First Amendment and Second Amendment rights.

One measure in the bill creates a mechanism within the Department of Human Rights for reporting "incidents that may not be criminal" but may represent "actual or perceived" bias. In other words, the bill gives the state authority to collect data about speech bias that have not been reported to law enforcement – so there is no documentation that the event happened – but people still could be placed in a “hate incident” registry.

Perhaps an example would help, offered by Department of Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero: Let’s say a person on the side of a road gets mean things yelled at them by a passing car. It makes them sad. That's the sort of thing they want "documented and tracked."

So, under this proposal, if someone gets their feelings hurt, it generates an incident report with the state Department of Human Rights. To what end? The offered answers vary, and none are specific. They want to "know what's going on." They want to "combat hate."

But here’s the thing: Democrats are not being straight about what this proposal is, what it does and why they are doing it. This only leaves us to speculate because it is our responsibility to understand what our government is doing and why.

They say this legislation is about collecting reports on incidents of bias, when they’re actually creating a database of unverified claims – a warrant without a cause in the form of a bad-speech registry.

They say this allows the state to collect information about incidents to reveal where there are problems of hate in communities. In reality, they’re providing a mechanism to show us which communities are most willing to tattle-tale on their neighbors.

And when pressed on exactly why they are doing this, Democrats point to burned mosques and, crimes against Jews, etc., and say we need to deal with that. The truth is, Democrats actually amended the proposal to remove “crime” from the language, replacing it with softer “reported incident” verbiage. House Republicans offered an amendment to restore the word “crime” in place of “incidents,” but House Democrats blocked that move.

This is a sloppy proposal where Democrats are engaging in emotional manipulation to obscure the impact of their policy: This is about the state monitoring speech and it opens the door to untold possibilities. What’s next? Is the state going to develop municipal social credit scores to which funding could be linked? It’s plausible.

Democrats contend this database will be aggregated, but is that any better? I contend it’s even worse because each individual community could be treated differently because of arbitrary, undocumented reports. This proposal is disgusting and it is good to see that this issue gained national attention this week. Fellow Republican Rep. Harry Niska (whose amendment would have added “criminal” to the bill’s language) appeared on Fox News this morning. Click here for that clip.

If the Democrats’ assault on the First Amendment is not concerning enough, their bill also features anti-Second Amendment language from two controversial gun control bills: H.F. 14 (universal gun registration) and H.F. 15 (red flag).

I support our law enforcement officers’ concerns about provisions that are unworkable and unrealistic to enforce on the streets. Instead of addressing the root causes of violent crime, this bill will create strict and impractical hurdles for law-abiding Minnesotans seeking to exercise their Second Amendment rights. Criminals looking to acquire firearms will not follow the complex new process laid out in the proposal and it will do nothing to stop the flow of firearms among criminals.

Maybe we could start by simply enforcing the numerous laws we already have governing firearm transfers before the Legislature creates new ones that will harm law-abiding citizens and are unlikely to deter those with bad intentions.

Dems short nursing homes

House Democrats on Tuesday approved a bill Tuesday which ignores a long-term care crisis in our state by severely underfunding this portion of the state budget.

The House Human Services Finance omnibus package (S.F. 2934) came to the floor accounting for just .01% of the Democrats’ $72 billion budget proposal that consumes the state’s historic surplus and increases state spending by 40 percent across the board.

The theme of this session, with a $17.5 billion surplus, has been payoffs for political patrons at the expense of people who have worked their entire lives. This bill is merely an extension of that approach taken by the House majority. There's no political return for Democrats in funding nursing homes, so they don’t do it. It’s that simple.

Meanwhile, Minnesota is in the midst of a “silver tsunami,” with more than 1.3 million state residents aged 65 or older. As these residents age, their need for care grows and it is unfortunate to see Minnesota is not keeping up with these needs.

The majority’s failure to adequately support this portion of the state budget once again illustrates where the Democrats’ priorities lie. Unfortunately, they are not with people relying on long-term care and those who provide those essential services – all of whom deserve better from their government. Let’s hope a conference committee makes substantial improvements to this bill before it receives consideration for final passage.

Tax bill lacks full Social Security cut

In addition to spending the $17.5 billion surplus and increasing state spending by 40 percent, the overall budget proposed by House Democrats also raises taxes by $9.5 billion. The omnibus tax bill (H.F. 1938) itself – which Democrats approved just last night – includes $2.2 billion in new taxes.

After talking a good game last fall and summer, Democrats are not providing a full repeal of the state’s Social Security tax in this bill. Minnesota is one of just 11 states that still taxes Social Security. A full repeal would give nearly half a million Minnesotans an average of $1276 in relief. Seniors are taxed on their Social Security income starting at just $25,000 of their federal combined income – so Democrat claims that just wealthy retirees are still being taxed is simply wrong.

Until next time, please stay in touch. Your feedback always is welcome.