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

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Legislative update

Friday, February 5, 2021

Dear Neighbor,

Gov. Tim Walz held a press conference this week to discuss creating a SAFE Account which would provide $35 million in funding primarily for the law enforcement presence that will be required during the upcoming Derek Chauvin trial in Minneapolis.

There are numerous concerns over this proposal, starting with issues law enforcement organizations themselves have raised. The Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, Minnesota Sheriffs Association and Minnesota Police Chiefs Association wrote in a letter to the Public Safety committee that “Our members remain concerned...that no matter what legislation is passed, the response for mutual aid will not be as robust as the public may expect. Our members’ concern is due to the continued demonization of law enforcement officers by certain public officials at various levels of government.”

As a supporter of law enforcement, my focus is making sure our LEOs have the resources needed to respond to riots and unrest. The failures by Gov. Walz and Minneapolis Mayor Frey that we saw last summer cannot be repeated. Actions Minneapolis to reduce the size and defund their police department have consequences and just this week the mayor said Minneapolis is down 200 police officers compared with 2019.

Now, supporters of the SAFE Account want to Minnesota taxpayers on the hook for millions of dollars incurred, in part, by bad decisions made by Minneapolis. At the same time, there are no assurances lives will be protected and public safety will be upheld even if this money is provided.

There are several other reasons I cannot support this House DFL proposal, including the unilateral authority it gives the DPS Commissioner to decide how reimbursements are determined, the expanded scope of costs eligible for reimbursement (including planning and after-action reporting), and the proposed creation by the POST Board of model policies that create new guidelines and consequences for responding law enforcement.

Some other jottings:

Heating assistance 

There is still assistance available to income eligible households (both owners and renters) for home heating bills and furnace repairs. The state’s Energy Assistance Program can help by providing financial assistance, such as: 

  • To pay past due energy bills to avoid disconnection 
  • To purchase fuel for delivery in emergencies 
  • To repair or replace homeowners’ malfunctioning furnaces.

The application period is open until May 31 this year and you can find more information and links to apply at the Minnesota Department of Commerce website.  

Housing costs 
As someone who has a background in the construction industry, I continue to keep a close eye on the majority’s bills that would add burdensome regulations and increase housing costs. The latest example is H.F. 257, a proposal which stipulates a “private entity may not prohibit or refuse to permit installation, maintenance, or use of a roof-mounted solar energy system by the owner of a single-family dwelling notwithstanding any covenant…” I look forward to discussing this bill in an upcoming Climate and Energy Finance and Policy Committee hearing and may have more to share after that meeting. 

Calif. Cars Comments 
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has scheduled a few public information sessions to discuss the governor’s proposal to bypass legislative due process and bring California’s auto standards to Minnesota through rulemaking. The sessions are being conducted online and the next ones are at 3 p.m. on Feb. 22-23. Click here for more regarding those sessions. Also, prior to adopting the new rules, there is a public comment period running through March 15. People can learn more or submit their comments here

Mask mandate 
House Democrats have authored a bill (HF 604) requiring that facemasks be worn in numerous public settings. I oppose this bill and support people’s individual rights and their ability to take whatever steps they feel are necessary to stay healthy. 

Watch for more from the House soon and, meanwhile, stay in touch and let me know how I can help. 



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