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

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Legislative update

Thursday, May 25, 2023
Memorial Day

Dear neighbor,

I would like to start this newsletter by wishing you and your family an enjoyable Memorial Day weekend as we pay tribute to the American heroes who sacrificed everything for the people of this nation and the liberties we are afforded as citizens of this great nation. I hope you are able to get out and attend any of the various events taking place this weekend to honor those who so selflessly gave their life for us.

As for this week’s official notes:

Reflecting on 2023 session

The 2023 legislative session adjourned Monday and the dust is still settling on all that happened the last five months. One thing we know for sure is this session will be most remembered for a Democrat trifecta treating a narrow majority as a sweeping mandate for passing a far-left agenda.

From a fiscal standpoint, the new two-year state budget Democrats approved will increase spending by more than 40 percent, from $52 billion to $72 billion. They also raised taxes by almost $10 billion despite a $17.5 billion state surplus. This includes increasing the state’s gas tax by 3.5 cents per gallon and tying it to inflation, increasing license tab fees, adding a 50-cent delivery tax, applying a new payroll tax that will hit employers and employees alike, and more.

This is far beyond what most Minnesotans support and it highlights why the Democrat trifecta is bad for our state. They are shooting the moon by taking extreme, activist-based positions on virtually every issue as long as they have their hands on all levers of government in St. Paul. They are sending state spending into orbit and raised taxes by nearly $10 billion despite a massive surplus.

What is even more surprising is the number of measures they are putting into law that everyday Minnesotans are not asking for, from ending e-pull tabs as we know them to creating a speech registry to track controversial views. The list goes on.

Meanwhile, Democrats failed to provide a full elimination of the state’s Social Security tax despite nearly universal support for that move. And, after Gov. Tim Walz began the session by supporting $2,000 surplus rebates for joint filers, Democrats ultimately approved just a fraction of that amount – $260 per person, or $520 per couple with a completely arbitrary $75,000/$150,000 threshold to qualify.

Aside from state finances, Democrats enacted several highly controversial, partisan policy measures. This includes adopting some of the world’s most extreme abortion policy and adopting gun-control laws that will do more to burden law-abiding citizens than thwart violent criminals.

I have been an ardent opponent of creating a state-based speech registry, which has First Amendment implications. An all-Democrat conference committee made changes that made it appear a proposed statewide bias speech registry had been removed from the final bill. But that’s not the case because the final draft the governor signed into law this week provides funding to support staff and a database for creating a bias registry – but under a different name.

This is reckless and dishonest. This shows why Minnesotans cannot trust this one-party Democrat trifecta in our state.

Big wins for local projects and seniors

Amid the various concerns, there are some big wins to report from this session:

Legislation I authored for local capital investment projects was included in a package both bodies approved before adjourning. Appropriations include $6.1 million to address water contamination in the Red Oaks neighborhood of Andover and $3.2 million for a Ramsey water treatment facility.

Legislative Republicans stood up for seniors and nursing homes by successfully negotiating $300 million more than Democrats had proposed for them. This added funding will help our long-term care industry at a time nursing homes have been forced to close and families have been left scrambling to find care for their loved ones.

Christian postsecondary schools

I issued the following statement in response to a lawsuit filed Wednesday on behalf of parents and Christian postsecondary schools objecting to a provision in an omnibus higher education package Gov. Tim Walz signed into law that day:

“This lawsuit is one of numerous legal challenges we can expect as a result of the extreme laws passed by Minnesota Democrats this year despite constitutional concerns. During a House floor debate, Democrats admitted they were targeting certain colleges based on their religious beliefs. We explained why this law is clearly unconstitutional, based on recent Supreme Court cases, but Democrats disregarded the facts and proceeded to enact this legislation.”

Click here for an article with more on this issue.

Around the district

The 2023 session may have drawn to a close, but I will continue doing my best to represent the people of District 31A throughout the interim. I look forward to spending the coming weeks and months meeting with people in our district and connecting with various local groups. Your input is much appreciated as we dissect what took place in the 2023 session and begin planning for 2024.

Until next time, have a good Memorial Day and please stay in touch.