Paul Novotny, incumbent

Paul Novotny, incumbent

Paul Novotny*

Age: 55

Address: 20035 Auburn St NW, Elk River, MN

Family: Married to my wife Nicole, we have two adult daughters who graduated Elk River High School in 2016 and 2019.

Education: AAS North Hennepin Community College

1. Briefly summarize your personal background and qualifications.

I was born and raised in Elk River. After graduation from the Elk River High School in 1983, I went on to get a degree in Law Enforcement from North Hennepin Community College. I worked as a Police Officer in Princeton before becoming a Deputy for the Sherburne County Sheriff’s Office where I had the privilege and honor of serving starting in 1989. I was a patrol sergeant when I retired in May 2020. I was elected to serve the district in a special election on Feb. 4, 2020 to fill the House 30A seat.

2. What is your biggest accomplishment in public life?

My 30-plus year career as a law enforcement officer with the Sherburne County Sheriff’s Office. It was an honor to go to work each day serving my community, meeting people in the midst of great joy, sorrow or struggle. When I first ran for office last January, I was in awe at the amount of people that I had served over the years reaching out to give their support, even folks I had arrested. Being your State Representative is a huge honor, one that I give the same amount of dedication as I did my career as a LEO.

3. Top priority: If elected, what is your top priority for the 2021 Legislature? Why are you running for office?

Public Safety, you and your loved ones have the right to feel safe and that your home and business is protected.

4. COVID-19: How do you grade the state government’s response to the pandemic? Are additional measures necessary? If so, what?

The state’s initial response was measured and in the face of the unknown, reasonable. We found out that the virus was very contagious, but not nearly as deadly as first believed. The state legislature is elected to be the people’s voice in how the state is run. Under the current Peacetime Emergency Orders the governor makes all of the decisions without even consulting legislative members. Additionally, local school districts should be given more control over how they will teach reflective of local situations.

5. Gridlock: What specific measures do you support to reduce the increasing partisanship of the lawmaking process and resulting gridlock? Do you support reforms that would prohibit consolidating multiple subjects into a single omnibus bill?

Yes, I support reforms that would prohibit multiple subject legislation.

6. Budget: The Legislature will be tasked with adopting a two-year budget in 2021 with a looming shortfall due to the financial impact of COVID-19. What will be your approach to balancing the budget in terms of reducing spending and/or raising taxes and fees? Be as specific as possible.

First and most importantly, raising taxes cannot be an option. Minnesota is already a high tax state and we are losing businesses to lower tax states in the area. The budget should include hiring freezes for non-essential positions, overall budget reductions, and eliminating wish list spending requests. Waste and fraud at the MN Department of Human Services accounts for hundreds of millions of dollars alone.

7. Education, K-12: COVID-19 resulted in dramatic changes to the delivery of education. What weaknesses in the system were highlighted by distance learning? Did we identify any best practices that should be incorporated in the post-pandemic era?

The distant learning has highlighted the need for equity in equipment and internet access. These situations can be resolved over time and with better internet service as fiber optic installation progresses. The ability to meet with teachers both by students and parents with various online programs can be used to replace the traditional conferences.

8. Education, higher education: Prior to the pandemic, many employers were challenged to find qualified workers. Now we’re faced with unemployment as many businesses are downsizing or closing. Is our higher ed system equipped to pivot and train workers for the changing business landscape?

The technical schools and colleges have formed partnerships with private industries to train workers to meet their ever changing needs. Our high schools should be encouraging students to go get the proper education for their desired career, a four year degree is not needed for so many professions.

9. Health care: Affordable health care remains a concern for many Minnesotans. Do you support the expansion of government-run health insurance plans? If not, what options do you support to stabilize health insurance premiums?

No, I do not support expanding government-run health care. If you think your health insurance is expensive now, wait to see how expensive it is when it is “free.” MNSure has increased the cost of almost everyone’s plans already, we simply cannot afford more government interference. The best thing the state can do, as is in most transactional situations, is to get out of the way of the private sector.

10. Workplace regulations: Mandated paid family and medical leave for all Minnesota employers were debated in 2020. It passed the House but failed in the Senate. Do you support such a mandate? Why or why not?

No, this mandate would have made it cost prohibitive for startup businesses and small family owned operations. Paid leave and medical benefits should be negotiated between employers and employees, the same as wages.

11. Transportation: What is your preference for raising additional money for roads and bridges? Or is current funding sufficient?

The current funding would be sufficient if it were actually dedicated to roads and bridges.

12. Energy: Should Minnesota increase its renewable energy mandates on utilities? Or are market forces sufficient to promote sustainability?

One can look at California during the recent rolling blackouts, to know that Minnesota needs a reliable, dependable baseload power supply. Californians were able to turn off the a/c when it was hot, we cannot turn off the heat in the dead of winter. Minnesota needs to keep reliable clean coal, natural gas, nuclear, biomass, and if it pays- solar and wind. I would specifically fight any legislation that would block use of propane or natural gas. When the government picks winners and losers instead of the market place, we all become losers.

13. Police reform: Police reform has become center stage in the aftermath of the George Floyd death and prompted passage of legislation during the special session. Did the laws go far enough or too far? Should the Legislature take additional measures?

As a member of the House Public Safety Committee, the reform bills were the main part of the work done in special sessions. My background in Law Enforcement, specifically in use of force training, was of great benefit during the hearings. I offered an important amendment, which became part of the passed reform bill, requiring that law enforcement officers are provided training in de-escalation and duty to intercede. I have been appointed to the Ensuring Police Excellence and Improving Community Relations Council, which will determine ways to strengthen the relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve.

14. What, if any, local initiatives or legislation do you have in mind if you are elected?

During special session, I submitted a bill that would give victims of violent crimes the right to know who is paying for the bail of their perpetrator. I will continue to work for victims in this matter.

If re-elected, I will submit a bill that would increase penalties for protests blocking roads, freeways and access to emergency services such as hospitals. No person should have to fear getting stopped by a mob during a “protest” and being drug from their car. No person should suffer medical injury because treatment was delayed due to illegal blocking of roads and freeway.

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