In mid-June, a special legislative session was called by Governor Walz in order to craft a new state budget, as the House and Senate majorities failed to enact one before the regular session ended in …
In mid-June, a special legislative session was called by Governor Walz in order to craft a new state budget, as the House and Senate majorities failed to enact one before the regular session ended in May.
Our budget work was completed on June 30, and I’d like to share some of the highlights.
Following a year where Minnesotans watched Minneapolis burn and inner-city Democrats senselessly called on lawmakers to ‘defund the police,’ I was pleased to stand strong with law enforcement this session. Under the guise of ‘reform,’ numerous measures were brought forward that very simply were anti-police or would have made it more difficult for law enforcement to do their jobs. Thankfully, we defeated them.
We also prevented more than a billion dollars in tax increases from becoming law this year. With a $4 billion surplus, tax increases should not have received serious consideration. These House majority plans would have made life more expensive for Minnesota families of all income levels. I was thankful we not only stopped these unnecessary tax hikes, but also gave our Main Street employers and unemployed Minnesotans the tax relief they should have received months ago. The final tax bill included eliminating state income tax on PPP proceeds that businesses received and also up to $10,200 in unemployment income for 2020.
Over the past year, I’ve received hundreds of emails on Governor Walz’s emergency powers. The majority have urged me to vote to end the governor’s exclusive handling of pandemic-related decisions, while others believe Minnesota couldn’t have survived without him.
Here is a recap: House Republicans fought all session long, voting more than 20 times to end the Governor’s emergency powers. While the legislature finally voted to end the peacetime emergency during the special session, the House majority forced through language that gives the Walz administration new unilateral authority, including the ability to ignore state contracting, conflict of interest, and competitive bidding laws. Moving forward, we will continue fighting to rein in the Walz administration and make permanent reforms to Minnesota Statute Chapter 12 to make sure we strike the proper balance between the legislative and executive branch.
A couple of other items of note: over the past two sessions I have been actively trying to strengthen lunch shaming laws in schools. Three years ago, the Stewartville School District made national headlines when students with negative school lunch balances had their meals tossed in the garbage in front of their peers. After speaking out against it, I heard from parents from statewide school districts who told me their kids were not allowed to eat because of insufficient funding.
This year’s K-12 Education bill includes my proposal that improves our current laws and recognizes that school staff should not be allowed to embarrass students due to low lunch account balances. Let’s be clear; schools should always be paid for meals they provide, but that transaction should be held between the district and the parents – not kids.
I also heard from a number of constituents regarding the continuation of the Market Bucks program, which allows low-income Minnesotans to buy fresh food from farmers’ markets. This program did receive funding in the final budget deal.
To be clear, this final budget deal was not fantastic. Nearly every budget bill contained provisions that gave me heartburn, and in some cases I thought the bad contained within them far outweighed the good. But a budget is in place, and the 2022 legislative session is scheduled to begin in late January.
Please remember I am always available to answer questions or concerns if you have them. Contact me any time at [email protected] house.mn or call 651-2963135. Have a great summer!