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

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Legislative Update from Rep. Sondra Erickson

Friday, May 14, 2021

Dear Neighbors,

Minnesota’s mask mandate will end today as Governor Walz is set to follow guidance from the CDC stating that fully vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear masks or social distance inside or outside.

Click here for more information from the Governor’s office on this.

We are days away from the end of 2021 legislative session and it appears likely that we will not finish our work on time. The Senate Republican majority and House Democrat majority have been meeting throughout the week to reach agreement on a budget deal, but these talks have stalled due to Democrats’ insistence on raising taxes when the state has a historic budget surplus.

Until Democrats drop these unrealistic and unreasonable demands, it’s hard to imagine a deal being struck.

I will do my best to keep you updated on what happens in the final days, but I imagine that a special session will be needed to get everything done.

Another significant sticking point in negotiations is the governor’s peacetime emergency powers. A part of the emergency powers that do not get discussed often is the ability it gives Governor Walz to unilaterally spend federal COVID relief funds without legislative approval or oversight.

This week we found out that he has already been spending some of these federal dollars on wasteful things like:

  • Nearly $100,000 to a non-profit which specializes in providing abortion doulas.  
  • $12,500 payment to a radio station to broadcast the Governor’s press conferences. 
  • $275/hour contract with a New York public relations company. 
  • $50,000 to a non-profit to establish talking circles, complete with $20 gift cards to incentivize participation. 
  • Nearly $20,000 to a non-profit to recruit volunteers to put together “wellness bundles” including tea and non-traditional health supplements. 

This is completely unacceptable and even more reason for the emergency powers to end. The legislature must have oversight of how this federal funding is spent.

House Approves Recreational Cannabis

Last evening, Democrats brought their legalized cannabis bill to the floor for debate. It was ultimately approved on a largely party-line vote, with a few Democrats voting “no” and a handful of Republicans voting “yes”.

Democrats have passed zero budget bills, refuse to drop their billions in tax hikes, and with just days left in session wasted time passing a marijuana bill that has no chance of becoming law thanks to the Senate Republican majority.

I voted “no” on the bill.

Legalizing marijuana will not make our streets safer and with no roadside testing available, law enforcement will not be able to verify if a driver is impaired. Further, black market marijuana will still be cheaper than legal cannabis, so illegal trading and the drug cartels will remain in business.

The bill also creates a conflict with state and federal law and creates a host of workplace issues for dealing with workers under the influence and increases liability for employers.

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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