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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Shane Mekeland (R)

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Legislative news

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Dear Neighbor,

All of this year’s omnibus finance bills to fund the next two-year state budget have now come to the House floor and here is just some of what Democrats voted to approve over the last week or so:

  • Funding a pay raise for legislators
  • Cutting $68 million from nursing homes
  • Increasing taxes by $12 billion over the next four years
  • Increasing the gas tax by 70 percent (20 cents per gallon)
  • Increasing health care costs
  • Infringing on our gun rights

There is no other way to say it than this 2019 legislative session has been an episode of Democrats Gone Wild, with House DFLers competing with Gov. Tim Walz for who can do more to push an extremist agenda on our state, gouge middle- and low-income earners and leave Greater Minnesota in the dust. I touched on some of the bullet points above in last week’s email and here is a look at some others:

Gas tax

House Democrats approved a transportation bill (HF 1555) which increases the gas tax by 70 percent (20 cents per gallon) and also raises the vehicle registration tax, the metro sales tax, and the new-vehicle sales tax for a total of more than $4 billion over four years.

I think there is widespread agreement that our roads need fixing, but it should not come through a plan that hurts low- and middle-income earners and those living in Greater Minnesota the most. It is interesting that Democrats say they want to raise the gas tax to improve roads and bridges, yet they also want us to stop using fossil fuels and are looking to continue pouring billions into building light rail lines. Northstar is currently subsidized at almost $45 per round-trip rider per day.

This is all part of the House Democrats’ plan to raise our taxes by $12 billion over the next four years at a time we have a $1 billion surplus. Throughout this legislative session, we have repeatedly heard about the lack of affordable housing. These taxes will only make our houses more expensive, as well as our food and practically all other products we purchase every day of our lives.

I offered an amendment to the transportation bill which, instead of making the gas tax increase mandatory, allows people to decide at the pump whether they want to pay 20 cents more per gallon. If citizens are fully embracing the Democrats’ plan to raise the gas tax by 20 cents, then they certainly would jump at the opportunity to press a button to do so on their own free will. Maybe pumps could even be programmed so the really enthusiastic gas tax supporters could raise their own tax even beyond that extra 20 cents.

To no one’s surprise, Democrats voted down this amendment.


House Democrats also voted to approve their public safety omnibus bill (HF 2792) with two controversial gun control bills included, expanding background checks and allowing court-ordered firearms seizures.

These provisions do nothing to actually prevent gun violence or keep guns out of the hands of criminals. I doubt that anyone who is capable of committing the worst-imaginable crimes will let a new regulation stop them. It will just be the rest of us who obey the law and treat the Second Amendment with utmost respect that will suffer the consequences under what amounts to be a gun registry. Thank goodness the Senate has said these awful gun bills are dead on arrival.

One of the anti-gun measures places new burdens on gun owners and creates several new restrictive requirements, including background checks on the private transfer of firearms. It also only allows one firearm per permit to purchase, which expires after 30 days, and imposes a requirement for private parties to keep records in perpetuity. Even transfers between friends would require individuals to pay a fee.

The other anti-gun measure implements a so-called “red-flag” law by permitting the removal of a person’s firearms if a court grants an order for an extreme risk protection order. This could be done through an ex-parte process where the accused is not present to offer a counter to the accusation, raising due process concerns among lawmakers. Under the proposal, law enforcement would be responsible for delivering the order and executing the firearm seizure without the accused knowing an accusation has been made against them.

While I will continue voicing my opposition to these provisions in the House, we are counting on the Senate to take them out of the bill when a conference committee assembles to prepare the overall package for a vote on final approval. Please reach out to members of the Senate to let them know you want them to stand firm in support of the Second Amendment.


House Democrats also approved their omnibus tax bill (HF 2125) as part of their plan to raise taxes on Minnesotans by over $12 billion during the next four years. The tax bill itself includes $3 billion in new increases over the next four years, resulting in increased consumer prices, reduced wages, and fewer job opportunities. Increasing the statewide tax on commercial/industrial property and other taxes will make owning and operating a business in Minnesota more burdensome and expensive for Main Street businesses that are already operating with thin profit margins.

Legislator pay

And, just to put the cherry on top, House Democrats approved a state government finance package (SF 2227) that grows government bureaucracy and funds pay hikes for legislators. So, yes, Democrats this year have voted to fund legislator pay raises while also voting to cut nursing homes by $68 million in another part of their budget.