This week the House has been engaged in marathon floor sessions to pass the enormous omnibus bills that have been offered:
- Transportation, State Government, Pensions, and Veterans & Military Affairs omnibus bill (275 pages);
- Early Education and E-12 Education omnibus bill (250 pages);
- Judiciary and Public Safety omnibus bill (246 pages)
- Environment and Natural Resources omnibus bill (125 pages);
- Agriculture, Broadband, and Housing omnibus bill (96 pages);
- Legacy omnibus bill (55 pages);
- Higher Education omnibus bill (41 pages);
House Democrats have brought forth over 1,000 pages in seven large omnibus bills that propose increased spending of $7.36 billion. These huge spending bills, if adopted into law, would grow government by 25% this biennium and eliminate any possibility of tax reductions. House Republicans offered several amendments, all of which the Democrats rejected.
How is it possible to raise the state budget by 25%? Take HF 4840. Under this proposed bill, authored by Rep. Jamie Long (DFL-Minneapolis), and Sen. Lindsey Port (DFL-Burnsville), Minnesotans would vote in the 2022 general election on whether the state’s constitution should be amended to remove restrictions on when the legislature can meet for regular session. Currently, legislators meet in regular session for no more than 120 legislative days.
According to AlphaNews, Speaker of the House Rep. Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, said the current legislative session makes it challenging for legislators to give sufficient attention to state issues. ” Making the legislature work year-round would give Minnesotans more voice in government.”
Majority Leader Sen. Jeremy Miller (R-Winona) responded that, “[It] would move us more toward Washington, D.C.-style politics. It’s important to maintain the current citizen-legislature to ensure we don’t have a legislature full of career politicians.”
Minnesota legislators currently make $48,520 annually. Per diem, representatives make $66 and senators make $86. AlphaNews pointed out that just 10 other states have full-time legislatures, such as California (114/877/year), New York ($110,000/year), and Pennsylvania ($90.335/year}. Each of these states also pays per diem.
Alternatively, Republicans in the Senate have been working on legislation to reduce the impact of rising property taxes.
Sen Julia Coleman (R-Carver County) has co-authored two bills under which the state could assist in remedying the large increase in property tax valuations being assessed in our communities. One would cap the amount of assessed value increase to no more than 3% per year, and would allow an assessor to make a larger adjustment only at time of sale.
The second would cap the amount of tax that can be levied at 1% of assessed value. It also would cap the amount a property value increase at 2% per year, and will allow an adjustment at time of sale.
In response to public concerns over growing crime and unlawful behavior, Sen. Coleman has proposed in SF 2844 a new penalty for recklessly endangering the public while fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle. Currently, explicit penalties exist for fleeing a peace officer only if members of the public are harmed. The new bill would impose a four-year penalty to properly sentence those who recklessly endangering the public while fleeing a peace officer.
Actions covered under this statute could include:
- Reaching speeds of 100 or 120 miles per hour on a freeway
- Going the wrong way on a freeway
- Running red lights
- Using dangerous speeds in residential neighborhoods
- Placing people in harm’s way in crowded parking lots
Republicans continue to try to raise awareness in the legislature of questionable current spending by the Walz administration. Rep. Tim Miller (R), who represents a district in west-central Minnesota, recently spoke during a hearing for the Legacy omnibus bill (HF 3438), which is supposed to be taking care of our environment. He reported that the Department of Natural Resources is spending $35 million to clear-cut trees “on hundreds, if not thousands, of acres of trees.” The reason: to "restore the prairieland" that allegedly existed in the area hundreds of years ago. The problem is that the DNR is leaving stumps in their wake and doing nothing to restore prairieland.