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

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Legislative update

Friday, February 3, 2023

Dear Neighbor,

Greetings from the House where, in today’s newsletter, I’d like to touch on election integrity. It is the foundation of our republic, and has been a deep interest to me even long before I was elected as a State Representative.

Legislation to safeguard our elections and to enhance confidence in our system and ensure just outcomes is one of my top priorities as a member of the House. It is essential we have a system which makes it easy to vote but hard to cheat in Minnesota’s elections. This includes implementing provisional ballots, a common-sense mechanism for confirming voters who arrive at the polls on Election Day.

Minnesota currently is the only state with same-day voter registration and no provisional balloting. It is vital for Minnesotans to have confidence in the security of our elections and it is time for us to adapt with the times like most other states in our nation have done. Provisional ballots and other measures House Republicans propose would help erase doubt over tactics such as ballot harvesting.

With that in mind, I have signed onto a package of common-sense election integrity provisions in HF 573, including:

  • Photo ID required to register to vote and to vote.
  • Voter identification card created; provisional ballots established.
  • Compensation methods related to absentee voting prohibited.
  • Identification of individuals acting as agent for absentee voter required.
  • Identification of individuals providing assistance to voter in polling place required.
  • Voter registration and absentee voting activities prohibited.
  • Counties, Municipalities, and school districts prohibited from accepting contributions for election expenses.
  • In-person absentee voting polling place requirements amended.
  • Criminal penalties increased; reports required; and money appropriated.

Free and fair elections are the greatest tool citizens have to keep their elected officials accountable. If we lose that, we lose what makes our country great.

Gun bills

Four gun-control bills are receiving hearings in a House Public Safety Finance & Policy Committee meeting at 8:30 this morning. Here’s a link to the committee’s meetings page and a button to the video stream. The bills that will be up for discussion include:

  • HF 14: Criminal background checks required for firearm transfers, and grounds modified for disqualification of transferee permit.
  • HF 15: Law enforcement and family members enabled to petition a court to prohibit people from possessing firearms if they pose a significant danger to themselves or others by possessing a firearm, and money appropriated.
  • HF 396: Safe storage of firearms and ammunition required, locking device required to be included in each firearm transfer, and criminal penalties imposed.
  • HF 601: Lost and stolen firearms required to be reported promptly to law enforcement.

I support the Second Amendment and have general concerns about these bills – especially with constitutional aspects and the threat to due process. Overall, it seems these bills would do more to burden law-abiding citizens than they would deter violent criminals. In some instances, these bills even could have the unintended consequence of causing new dangers.

Juneteenth holiday

The House on Thursday approved, on a broad, bipartisan vote, legislation establishing June 19 as a state holiday. The date coincides with the day in 1865 when the last community of enslaved Americans in Galveston, Tex., received word that they had been freed as a result of the Emancipation Proclamation issued by President Lincoln. This is a fitting start to Black History Month.

Until next time, have a good weekend and let me know how I can help.