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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Sondra Erickson (R)

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Legislative Update from Rep. Sondra Erickson

Friday, January 18, 2019

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

This past week I joined my House Republican colleagues in urging Governor Walz and House DFLers to drop their plan to reinstate Minnesota’s sick tax. The sick tax is a $600 million a year tax on most patient services including things like baby deliveries, chemotherapy treatments, routine doctor visits, emergency room visits, and more.

I don’t understand Democrats’ thinking on this especially at a time when the state has a $1.5 billion budget surplus and health care costs continue to put a strain on family budgets. Democrats spent all summer and fall traveling the state, telling Minnesotans that they would lower health care costs. Instead, they are doing the opposite.

The tax was eliminated as part of bipartisan legislation passed by a Republican-controlled legislature and signed into law by Governor Dayton in 2011. It is set to expire starting January 1, 2020, and I hope Democrats will reverse course on this, but I’m not holding my breath.

Questions about Transparency

Since session started last Tuesday, I’ve heard from a number of constituents that are concerned about a change to the House’s committee structure that will likely result in far less transparency at the capitol.

The short of it is this; the House DFL is making most committees a “division” of the Ways and Means Committee. This will give extraordinary power to the committee chairman, allowing him to refer bills to different divisions simply by memo. The concern is that this structure will make it difficult for the general public to follow a bill’s path through the legislative process. It also leaves the door open for the majority to move bills through the process with little to no warning, giving the public less than 24 hours notice before a bill hearing takes place.

This rule change is a disappointing step backward for this institution’s transparency. Unfortunately, it is not the only questionable change the DFL has undertaken during the first 2 weeks of session.

The House Public Safety Committee will be meeting this year in the basement hearing room at the State Office Building. This room does not have video capability, meaning that hearings will not be televised on House TV, as most are. The general public will only have audio recordings of the meetings.

The Public Safety Committee is where a number of important bills will be debated including gun control legislation and changes to our criminal justice system. As a strong supporter of your 2nd Amendment rights, I pledge to you that I will not vote for any bills that would infringe on the rights of law-abiding Minnesotans to own firearms. Unfortunately, due to this room scheduling, the Democrats’ gun grabbing bills will not be televised for the general public to see.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

This coming Monday, January 21st, is Martin Luther King Jr. day here in the United States. House offices will be closed this day in observance. Martin Luther King Jr. day became an official federal holiday in 1983 when President Ronald Reagan signed the King Holiday Bill into law. The holiday was officially observed for the first time in 1986.

When I was a teacher, I would often require students to read Dr. King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The methods Dr. King employed in achieving change by treating everyone with respect, despite disagreements, and bringing people together, not tearing them apart, are timeless lessons that are still relevant today. You can read Dr. King’s historic “I Have a Dream” speech here.

Staying in Touch

Thank you to those of you that took the time to fill out and return my 2019 legislative survey. We had a great response and I plan on sharing the results of the survey sometime in the near future.

That’s all for this week’s update. As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions or concerns regarding a matter related to state government. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-6746 or via email at rep.sondra.erickson@house.mn.

Have a great weekend,

Sondra

 

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