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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Harry Niska (R)

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Legislative update

Friday, January 27, 2023

Dear Neighbor,

It’s been another busy week at the Capitol with House Democrats continuing to push rather controversial and flat-out divisive bills through the process. Here are some recent notes:

Blackout Bill

Last night, House Democrats passed on a party-line vote H.F. 7, a bill which extends and increases Minnesota’s renewable energy standard to 55 percent by 2035 and requires electric utilities in the state to generate or acquire 100 percent carbon-free energy by 2040.

The bill will increase consumer energy prices, reduce power reliability and ultimately compromise safety.

A report from the Center of the American Experiment estimates the Walz/Democrat plan to move to 100 percent carbon free electricity by 2040 will cost $313 billion, or nearly $3,900 per family per year. The same study indicates the return on these massive consumer costs would be negligible at best, paying to potentially avert 0.00096 degrees Celsius of warming by 2100.

Reliability is another major concern with the House Democrats proposal. The Midcontinent Independent Systems Operator currently has reported a 1,200-megawatt capacity shortfall, indicating Minnesota already doesn’t have enough reliable power-plant capacity online to meet expected peak electricity demand. Warnings of capacity shortfalls for peak periods will become more commonplace if our state continues to rely more on intermittent, weather-dependent energy sources as House Democrats are mandating.

All blackouts are bad, but winter blackouts in Minnesota could pose great dangers that House Democrats are not taking seriously. I’d rather see Minnesota focus on diversifying the state’s energy supply, tapping into new nuclear technology, along with carbon capture and storage, as lower-cost alternatives for reducing carbon emissions.

As if those points weren’t reason enough to oppose this bill, there also are potential legal issues to consider. Electrical flow does not cease at our state borders, which means Minnesota is on the same power grid as its neighbors. If legislation in our state effectively regulates the Dakotas, for example, it opens us up to legal challenges. North Dakota just a few years ago successfully sued Minnesota for $1.4 million by arguing it was damaged by carbon regulations our state was projecting.

I offered an amendment that would do taxpayers a favor by preventing history from repeating itself. Unfortunately, House Democrats blocked the amendment and needlessly exposed taxpayers to another expensive lawsuit that, by all accounts, seems certain to be filed if this bill does become law.

Another extreme abortion bill

One trend is becoming quite obvious in St. Paul: House Democrats are bent on micro-managing pretty much every aspect of life in our state, yet take the most extreme hands-off approach regarding life itself.

In my last newsletter, I mentioned House Democrats approved a radical bill which makes abortion, already legal in Minnesota, available at any time during a pregnancy and with no guardrails.

It’s bad enough that bill (HF 1) puts our abortion laws on par with radical regimes such as North Korea and China, but House Democrats went even further to the fringe this week by moving through committees another – even more extreme – abortion bill. This bill (H.F. 91) removes any remaining guardrails for abortion, starting with repealing the Born Alive Infant Protection Act. It also strikes any abortion reporting requirements left in place from the Doe v Minnesota opinion over the summer.

If it wasn’t already crystal clear last week, this week further illustrates the House Democrats’ extreme stance on abortion is out of touch with average Minnesotans and threatens the health and safety of mothers and unborn children. I strongly oppose this bill and will continue to vote against it any chance I get.