By Rep. Shane Mekeland
While many legislators head to St. Paul with folders full of ideas for new laws, I believe we already have too many laws and am taking a less-is-more approach.
Of course, we could seemingly spend forever trying to unravel unnecessary, inefficient state programs and wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars where less government truly is more. Those discussions will take place as the heavy lifting starts in setting a new two-year state budget. For now, I would like to throw out another, more simple example of a law we can do without, one that I am authoring a bill to eliminate.
Current state statute prohibits paramedics from rendering first aid to a police dog injured in the line of duty. This is a senseless law that puts our first responders in a tough spot. They have to choose between watching an injured canine suffer – or even die – as they withhold first aid, knowingly break the law to render care, or circumvent the system by providing play-by-play instructions to law enforcement officers.
As it stands, this law serves to help nobody other than maybe protecting the veterinarians’ industry. I have a hard time believing that, person to person, veterinarians themselves would oppose first responders providing first aid to police dogs. Of course, veterinarians would continue providing any follow-up treatment and, yes, paramedics would continue to prioritize their assistance on the scene and first assist humans.
Thankfully, this situation does not arise daily, but it happens enough that repealing the law is warranted. In fact, I have authored this bill on behalf of a Minnesota police officer who brought the issue to my attention and asked that something be done. We now are awaiting a hearing on the bill.
As for the aforementioned budget work, Gov. Tim Walz issued his budget plan for the next two-year cycle on Tuesday and my initial reaction is that the honeymoon sure didn’t last long for the Walz administration. The guy who rode a ‘One Minnesota’ slogan to the governor’s office already is proposing a crushing blow to low- and middle-income earners and people of Greater Minnesota by raising taxes by more than $3 billion over the next two years alone at a time the state has a $1.5 billion surplus.
He proposes raising the gas tax by 70 percent, which not only would cost us more at the pump, but drive up the costs of goods and services. The state already has enough of our tax dollars, it just needs to be spent more wisely.
The House and Senate will put forward budget proposals of their own after an updated state economic forecast is issued at the end of this month.
Just a couple of things reports show as we consider the state’s next budget:
Much will change throughout the process, but I urge more tax relief for seniors in this year’s finished product. I have co-authored a bill (H.F. 56) that would provide an unlimited Social Security subtraction. This follows up a bill enacted in 2017 which allowed for a subtraction from social security income. That bill provided 284,000 senior citizens with tax reductions and approximately 72,000 of our seniors no longer pay any income tax social security.
Now it’s time to take it a step further and the bill I co-authored would help make that happen.