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Legislative Update from Rep. Sondra Erickson

Friday, April 23, 2021

Dear Neighbors,

It’s been another busy week for me to be fiscally responsible with your money. In the House, we debated and voted on eight omnibus finance bills.

Here is a brief recap of a few of the bills that were voted on this week.

K-12 Education

On Monday, the House debated and voted on the DFL’s K-12 Education Finance and Policy omnibus bill that passed on a mostly party-line vote of 73-60. I voted NO on the bill for several reasons.

First, it includes zero provisions to re-open schools or prioritize the return of students to in-person learning as quickly as possible.

As the Republican-lead on the Education Policy Committee, I have worked hard the last year to make sure students and schools are equipped to make up for lost classroom time because of COVID shutdowns.

We need students back in the classroom full-time to begin the work of catching up after more than a year of learning loss. At a time when a generation of students has been harmed by forced closures, Democrats are putting bureaucracy ahead of students and have zero plan to return students to in-person learning or make progress in closing the achievement gap. Moreover, they added about 75 new policy mandates.

Here are some of the main points of the bill:

  • Focuses on “equity and inclusion” (the Administration’s admission) rather than high standards and academic basics to help students develop intellectually and cognitively.
  • Prioritizes bureaucracy over students as schools receive 2% and 2% on the funding formula while bureaucrats receive a 10% increase in funding.
  • Rolls back reforms to the Tiered Licensing System and closes off pathways to increase a more diverse teaching force to enter and remain in the classroom.
  • Puts more mandates (about 75) on school districts that crowd out local control without any added flexibility and includes student disciplinary provisions that are too restrictive, hindering teachers’ ability to maintain classroom discipline.
  • Forces more good teachers out of the classroom by restoring “Last in, First Out” to state law by creating an exemption to a seniority-based leave policy.

This was ultimately a missed opportunity, and I am hopeful that the bill will be much improved when it returns from conference committee next month.

Jobs/Economic Development 

On Tuesday, we debated and voted on Jobs and Economic Development, both of which add new mandates and spend millions more. I voted NO.

Instead of helping small businesses and job creators that have struggled from forced closures, Democrats’ Jobs/Economic Development bill would implement burdensome regulations that will make it much more difficult for Minnesota businesses to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. We should be helping businesses by passing Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) relief, not imposing new mandates.

Public Safety/Judiciary 

The Public Safety/Judiciary bill was debated, voted on, and passed Wednesday.

Yet again, I voted NO on this bill.

My opposition to this bill was based in the reality that this legislation runs counter to public safety, is hostile to law enforcement, and will inhibit the recruitment and retention of peace officers statewide, all while letting criminals off with lighter sentences than the court imposed and hiding their records from the public.

This bill would be a step backwards and make our communities less safe.

Taxes

We voted on the Taxes bill on Thursday. This bill raises taxes by more than $1 billion over the next two years at a time when Minnesota has a $4 billion budget surplus.

It also fails to fully exempt Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans by capping relief at $350,000. This means that many businesses will still be taxed on forgiven PPP loans that were used to pay employees and keep their doors open during a difficult year.

This is unacceptable and a large part of the reason I voted No.

Minnesotans deserve better.

Staying in Touch

Please be sure to reach out to me if you have any questions or concerns. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-6746 or via email at rep.sondra.erickson@house.mn.

Have a good day,

Sondra

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