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

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Legislative update

Friday, March 22, 2024

Dear Neighbor,

In last week’s newsletter I mentioned Democrats don’t want you to shoot the bad guys, don’t want to punish the bad guys for shooting you, and don’t care if the bad guys steal your property.

Guess what? It gets worse. Not only do Democrats take those positions, but they’re openly deceiving you about where they stand.

For example, House Democrats in committee hearings have made it abundantly clear they provided $300 million in local law enforcement aid even though they didn’t want to provide another penny to law enforcement at a time they were trying to build credibility with their radical base’s defund the police mantra.

So, what did the Democrats do? The tried to have it both ways by capitalizing on the theatrics of ostensibly providing $300 million for law enforcement purposes, while also appeasing extremists by placing such tight restrictions on the funding those dollars won’t actually do anything to help law enforcement officers.

It is beyond disingenuous for Democrats to pat themselves on the back for using full control of the Capitol to spend $300 million on law enforcement that doesn’t actually go to law enforcement. Just for fun, here are the categories on which local entities can spend these dollars:

  • Community violence prevention and? intervention programs
  • Community engagement
  • Mental health crisis responses
  • Victim? services
  • Training programs
  • First responder wellness
  • Equipment related to fire, rescue, and? emergency services
  • To pay other personnel or equipment costs

You may notice what’s NOT on this list. Tactical vehicles, for instance, do not qualify, even though we continue seeing instances where they could save lives. Something as practical as improving lighting to increase safety also does not apply.

We – and by “we” I can only assume Democrats as well – continue to hear law enforcement agencies ask that our state simply provide what they need instead of holding them hostage to compel certain behaviors.

Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher may have put it best, when he recently said, “Can you care about us before we’re dead? Everyone rushes to make a positive statement when someone is killed but before that the support is waning."

Then, we had St. Croix County Sheriff Scott Knudson indicate Gov. Walz’s comments following the Burnsville shooting seemed “disingenuous" after the governor said he wanted to “let the investigation play out” even though Walz has a history of sprinting to the mic to weigh in on cases where allegations involve officers.

With all this in mind, House Republicans are taking a more serious approach to tackling violent crime. We conducted a press conference this week to call for hearings on a series of several bills we have authored to support our law enforcement officers, hold criminals accountable and keep our communities safe. One of the bills House Republicans propose (H.F. 4837) would allow more flexibility in how public safety aid is used by local governments so they can meet their specific needs. Our citizens and law enforcement officers alike deserve no less.

Another bill H.F. 4866, a requires county attorneys to disclose information regarding expert witnesses to peace officers in an officer-involved death incident. You may be able to connect the dots to recent news surrounding the in Hennepin County Attorney’s dereliction of duty.

Overall, these bills have been specifically requested by our partners in law enforcement because we care about our men and women in uniform even before they are killed. They put their lives on the line to protect and serve every day. They deserve to have the resources they need to do their jobs effectively – as we also pass and uphold laws that crack down on crime, nab dangerous offenders and ensure the criminals actually do the time.

Religious freedom

Religious freedom has been another ongoing topic of discussion in St. Paul. This week, Democrats doubled down on their position the state’s views trump your religious freedom.

Here’s how it went down:

House Democrats recently voted down a House Republican committee amendment to restore a religious freedom provision that was deleted from Minnesota Human Rights Act law last year. The proposed measure ensures religious organizations and faith-based schools can, among other things, hire teachers and ministers consistent with their mission and values. Already, at least one faith-based school is facing an employment complaint at the department of human rights because of the removal of the provision.

Senate Democrats had a chance to restore state law to our long-held consensus that religious communities in Minnesota have the autonomy to decide questions of faith by accepting the same Republican amendment. Instead, Senate Democrats followed House Democrats right off the plank by also voting to make sure the separation of church and state in Minnesota does not exist in Minnesota.

As I have previously noted, before last year, when gender identity was included (or subsumed) within the MHRA definition of sexual orientation, the still-existing religious exemption for sexual orientation covered gender identity claims as well. When a new, separate definition of gender identity was created last year, there was no corresponding religious exemption added. This issue caused alarm among Minnesota’s faith community and House Republicans worked with religious leaders to craft an amendment to MHRA legislation S.F. 4292. House Democrats and Senate Democrats then voted against that language.

It remains to be seen what will happen with the overriding bill and I will continue advocating for the religious freedom component to be restored.

This story is far from over. Stay tuned and, please, stay in touch.