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

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Legislative update

Friday, April 12, 2024

Dear Neighbor,

I was pleasantly inspired by a public safety omnibus policy package which passed the House on a 131-0 vote this week. The bipartisan package includes changes related to crime victims and their rights, making criminal justice reforms, modifying predatory offender restrictions, and modifying some duties of the Department of Corrections.

Unlike most omnibus bills that have been coming out of the Public Safety Committee in recent years, this package came out of the committee process comparatively clean. For example, there are no gun control measures or other controversial bills in this package. It even includes handful of Republican-authored measures.

This bill is a is a good example of how you put together a package of legislation that has broad support. While five Republican-authored provisions are included in this omnibus, I don't think that was necessarily a chief component in considering it worthy of bringing to the floor. It’s more just the fact that we're dealing with issues and moving legislation that has broad support.

The goal of all omnibus work should be to advance less-controversial provisions for the good of the public. Too often political games are played with omnibus bills, causing people to sour on government. Slipping controversial bills into an omnibus package that otherwise contains a lot of stuff that we agree on erodes support and opens the door for gamesmanship. The minority votes against omnibus bills because of the poison pills, only for the majority to turn around and accuse the minority of voting against the good stuff.

Rep. Gomez recently employed this deceitful tactic regarding public safety in a feeble attempt to claim House Republicans did not support funding for law enforcement when, in fact, it was other toxic, extremist elements that undermined support among the minority for the package as a whole.

It’s a perverted portrayal of the world we live in, and Minnesotans deserve more honesty and transparency from their legislators. As we move forward, I suggest we do more to mimic the successful bipartisan approach that was taken with the public safety policy package that passed without opposition, but maybe that is wishful thinking until we restore balance in St. Paul.

Elections bill

Turns out my plea for more bipartisan omnibus bills was indeed wishful thinking until we restore balance in St. Paul. Just moments after they reached across the aisle while approving a public safety package, House Democrats retreated to their hyper-partisan den while passing an omnibus elections bill which includes a number of controversial provisions and virtually zero Republican measures.

More than any other subject matter in the Legislature, elections policy has a longstanding tradition of being bipartisan so that neither party can legislate itself an unfair advantage over another. Governors historically have demanded that elections bills be bipartisan.

That all went up in flames last year as Democrats took full control of the Capitol and they have continued their partisan approach from the far left this year. Instead of taking a more balanced and reasonable approach, the majority ignored the minority’s good ideas and loaded up this bill with partisan elections policy.

Minnesotans are left to suffer a bill that is reckless, irresponsible, loosens integrity and erodes confidence in our system. The bill which passed allows a mere description of residence when an address is not available, and the establishment of additional polling places on postsecondary institution campuses upon request. It also infringes on local governments with additional unfunded mandates on local elections.

Maybe the most concerning aspect of all is the Democrats refusing to establish provisional ballots. The majority’s hand is tipped when it is not willing to verify the legitimacy of same-day ballots. It tells me all I need to know about how much Democrats value integrity in our elections.

Minnesota is one of just a few states that does not provide provisional ballots to make sure legitimate votes are not diluted by fraud or even error. There is no excuse for failing to verify ballots no matter how many times Democrats prattle on about access being more important than security. If access is more important than security, then why lock your front door at night? Why take the time to double-tap your car’s FOB?

SOS visit

Thank you to Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon for recently coming to St. Michael/Albertville to talk with high school students about the importance of voting and to speak with business leaders about critical issues relevant to their success. Secretary Simon was incredibly gracious and informative, and I thank him for spending time in our area.