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

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Legislative update

Thursday, May 26, 2022





Before we get to the latest House business, Memorial Day is approaching, and I want to express my deepest gratitude to our American heroes in uniform who made ultimate sacrifices to defend our freedoms and protect the people of this nation. We are indebted to the brave souls who shed their blood for the United States of America and will keep you in our hearts and minds forever.

These are photos of my grandfather who was one that stormed Normandy in WWII. Then, when back on U.S. soil a few years later, he lost his wife – who was eight months pregnant – in a 1946 tornado in Eagle Lake, Minn. He was left with a 14-month-old daughter and a lot of questions about life and where he fit into it. He later found where that fit was with a new start and went on to be a very successful father, husband and grandfather to many; he was never a victim. But, oh, my gosh, he had a amazing journey in life with no regrets. God bless you, grandpa! 

Legislative update

The Legislature adjourned Monday without resolution on top priorities such as converting the state’s historic surplus to tax relief and making improvement to public safety.

I remain a firm advocate of using the state’s massive over-collection of tax dollars to provide permanent, meaningful tax relief at a time Minnesotans are facing skyrocketing price increases on pretty much all goods and services.

Major tax relief should have been a given this session but, unfortunately, House Democrats’ insistence on increasing government spending by billions of dollars stopped that from happening. The majority pushed to increase government spending by 15 percent or more compared with the last budget, even though this is not a budget year, and our state already is fully funded for the biennium.

The silver lining is we did approve legislation to repay Minnesota’s unemployment insurance trust fund deficit and reverse tax hikes on employers in early May, eliminating one potentially significant consequence for inaction. Preventing a needless tax increase from taking place is setting the bar rather low and is no substitute for real tax relief, but at least it was accomplished.

And, yes, I remain pleased we approved a veterans and military affairs package earlier this month as well to support their efforts.

There is a chance the governor could call a special session to revisit unfinished items of business, but that also comes with some risk. Put it this way: I support returning the state’s surplus to the taxpayers who have been overcharged, end of story. However, coming to terms with House Democrats on a special session almost certainly would result in billions of dollars that could be used for tax relief instead being spent on government programs, adding to the cost of government in perpetuity.

Count me out if we effectively have to buy more bureaucracy to achieve modest tax relief that itself could be eaten up by government growth. If that’s the case, let’s take the long view and get back at it in 2023 with a new look in St. Paul. Let’s start looking at the year ahead with a real focus on how we can make life better for Minnesotans, with the long term in mind instead of settling for temporary relief.

Besides, we had four months this session for the House majority to come around on doing the right thing by giving people back their money, but that has not happened.

Same goes for improving public safety, where extremists in the Legislature refused to fund law enforcement and blocked increased penalties for criminals – including a bill that would crack down on fentanyl as our country deals with record-setting overdose deaths driven by this deadly drug. It’s past time to stand up to the “defund the police” wing of their party that insists on funding unproven and unaccountable non-profit groups instead of putting more money into our local police departments.

Permanent, meaningful tax relief remain a top priority of mine as we prepare for the 2023 session. It starts with eliminating state taxes on Social Security to end Minnesota’s status as one of the last states to still tax these dollars.

Until next time, have a good Memorial Day weekend and let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.