Thursday was the National Day of Prayer. Always occurring on the first Thursday in May, this is a time where we dedicate at least one national day to join millions of others in prayer for our nation and our citizens.
This year, I was honored to serve as House chaplain and give the opening prayer at the start of yesterday’s floor session. Click here or the photo below to watch and listen to the prayer I gave on Thursday.
Ending Unnecessary Tax on Job Providers
Last week, the House of Representatives approved compromise legislation to replenish the state’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund and allocate funds to provide bonus checks for qualified frontline workers.
When Governor Walz forced businesses to close due to the COVID pandemic two years ago, thousands of Minnesotans were forced to go on unemployment. The federal government loaned Minnesota more than $1 billion to meet the unemployment insurance demand, and Minnesota has needed to repay that debt.
Minnesota has been paying $50,000 a day just in interest costs while House Democrats refused to support the bill. Because the Legislature had not allocated available state surplus or federal COVID resources to solve the UI trust fund problem, the default repayment was a 15% or more tax increase on every Minnesota employer.
Approval of last week’s bill ends this unnecessary and unfair tax.
Supplemental Budget Bills
House Democrats’ remaining supplemental budget bills were approved this week. As I’ve stated before, these bills will look very different when they return from conference committee with the Senate. Here’s a brief recap of the three budget bills that were approved this week.
Health and Human Services: Minnesota should be focusing on ways to lower the cost of health care, especially at a time when the state has such a massive budget surplus. Instead, the Democrats’ bill would drive up the cost of health care for Minnesota families and push our state even closer to a single-payer system that would extract billions in taxes from Minnesotans of every income level.
Taxes: In their taxes bill, Democrats fail to provide middle-class families with the meaningful and permanent tax cuts they deserve. Instead, Democrats are proposing to spend $21 in new spending for every $1 in tax cuts/reductions. Additionally, the bill would make undocumented immigrants eligible for certain tax credits.
Labor/Workforce/Climate and Energy/Commerce: Democrats combined spending and policy from the areas of Labor, Workforce, Climate and Energy, and Commerce into a single omnibus bill. While Minnesotans are struggling with inflation and soaring gas/prices, this bill would make the problem even worse by raising billions of dollars in taxes and imposing new expensive mandates on job creators.
In the commerce section of this bill, I expressed concern about a proposal for second chances that would require educator licensing boards to issue a disqualification to inform the applicant who had a conviction of any action or additional steps the applicant could take to qualify for a license. This suggests the educator licensing boards would be required to assist preliminary applicants on their options for getting a disqualifying conviction expunged from their criminal record, but this is not the role of our educator licensing boards. Moreover, there are a lot of convictions not included in law that may have been committed against children, so my concerns are even greater about protecting our children.
Further, the bill stipulates that a prequalification issued by the current licensing board would be binding. and would override a potential contrary decision by a future board. This removes any discretion from future boards on how they might assess risks to student or staff safety before issuing a license. I asked the author to reconsider including these licensing boards (for teachers and administrators) in the final bill.
I voted “no” on each of these bills but expect them to come back in better shape after the House and Senate meet in conference committees to reach compromise agreements on each piece of legislation.
Staying in Touch
I encourage you to reach out to me with any thoughts, questions, or concerns you may have on issues related to state government. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-6746 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.