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

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Legislative update

Friday, February 12, 2021

Dear Neighbor, 

There is a lot to report from the House this week, so let’s get right to it:


While House Democrats are busy pushing to subject our children to comprehensive sex education in schools throughout our state (more on that in a bit), House Republicans this week attempted to bring urgency to a bill which provides more local control on re-opening classrooms in general. 

The bill would take away Gov. Walz’s powers to unilaterally close schools, ensuring that reopening decisions are handled at the local level by school board members, district officials, teachers, and parents.

While students in a number of districts already have returned to in-person learning, thousands more remain in remote models. Students and families are being devastated by the consequences of distance learning as it takes a toll on academic achievement, mental health, and more.

The science and data show we can safely get our students back in the classroom. Even President Biden’s CDC director has said multiple times that we could safely return to in-person learning before all teachers are vaccinated. 

We trust our local school boards, administrators, parents, and teachers to work collaboratively and make decisions that are in the best interest of the district. Let’s leave it to leave it to local boards to decide what’s best for them. That’s fair and safe and is the goal of this bill. Unfortunately, the House majority blocked the move to declare urgency and move it through the full House.


A bill requiring the Department of Education to develop a comprehensive sexual health education model and help school districts implement the programming received a hearing in a House committee this week. 

Testifiers opposing the bill said the curriculum sexualizes children and removes protective boundaries. Referencing a section within the bill that would require curriculum to “respect community values,” the testifier asked, “Who determines these community values?” 

That’s a great question because this curriculum mandate certainly does not respect the community values in our district and I’m sure the same is true across the state. Development of curriculum, the potential content, age appropriateness, and who would be teaching the curriculum all are aspects of concern.  

Just another example of decisions that are best left in the hands of local families and the teachers/district officials who serve them.


The majority’s out-of-touch bills continue to receive hearings in House Committees. This week, a bill (H.F. 527) that would assess an estimated $8,000-$10,000 to construction costs per rooftop to fund potential future roadwork via street impact fees was discussed. It was made clear that supporters of this bill in the majority do not welcome housing development and do not seem to care this bill would stifle growth. 

This also is a good time to remember former Gov. Mark Dayton once commissioned a study on why there is a lack of affordable housing in our state. Our state’s overregulation already adds tens of thousands of dollars to the cost of a home and this proposal from the majority would add $8-10K to the cost of homes in one fell swoop. And that doesn’t even account for the more hidden added costs to consumers such as homeowners insurance, property taxes, etc., that also would rise right along with construction costs. 

Needless to say, I oppose this bill, but the majority approved it and sent it on to its next committee stop. 


The latest in a string of ill-advised energy bills from the House majority was the subject of a committee hearing this week. This bill (HF 278) says you must be part of an apprentice program to work on wind and solar projects.  

This effectively creates a union-only requirement. In Minnesota, only 20% of the construction workforce belongs to a union – i.e. enrolled in a registered apprenticeship program. The vast majority of contractors construction workers in the state would not be able to be hired on a project in their own city if they aren’t in a registered apprenticeship program.

For our members who do this type of highly specialized work, it’s hard enough finding the qualified contractors, subcontractors, and workers to do the work. And now this bill would limit the pool of workers to essentially their members.

On one hand, our new president is shutting down certain energy industries and telling people he is putting out of work to get a job in solar or wind. With this bill, you can’t do that unless you’re in a union.  


On Wednesday, Minnesota Management and Budget released a revenue report showing General Fund revenues totaled $2.403 billion in January, $296 million (14.1 percent) more than forecast.. Net receipts from the individual income, sales, and corporate taxes were above the forecast, while net other tax receipts matched the forecast. 

This is further evidence our economy did not go off the deep end as once feared and even our modest shortfall continues to shrink. The February forecast will provide a complete set of details to sift through in preparation to set a new two-year budget but, at the very least, this revenue trend should cause the governor to scrap the $1.7 billion tax increase he proposes.

Have a good weekend and do your best to stay warm.



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