Last week, I was named to the conference committee for the Higher Education Omnibus bill. I look forward to buckling down to do the work on this bill to make it one that will serve our college students well instead of increasing bureaucracy and ignoring rising college costs.
Since my last update, we voted on the Tax Omnibus bill, the Public Safety and Judiciary Omnibus, and the Health and Human Services Omnibus bills, as well as several smaller bills.
The Tax Omnibus bill failed to provide full federal conformity for forgiven PPP loans, which would align Minnesota with the federal government and exempt forgiven PPP loan income from taxes. It is unacceptable to neglect the needed conformity for forgiven PPP loans while the state has over $4 billion dollars including our state surplus and the funds that have come to the state from the federal government. Also in the Tax Omnibus were over $1 billion in higher taxes, as Minnesota families and businesses are still grappling with the effects of the last year of shutdowns and layoffs. Included in those new taxes is a new 5th tier income tax rate that would give Minnesota the second highest tax rate in the country. If we continue to penalize families and businesses with ever-increasing taxes, they will leave the state.
The Public Safety Judiciary Omnibus contained numerous problematic policies, including changes to incarceration, parole, and probation policies that would allow violent criminals to go free, and would also require the court to hide charging, conviction and sentencing information, even from law enforcement, corrections, prosecutors and an offender's victims. During this bill debate, the Democrat majority ruled nearly a dozen amendments out of order, claiming they were "not germane" to the bill, mostly having to do strengthening Second Amendment rights. These amendments were absolutely germane to the bill, however were still ruled out of order even after one amendment author listed the page and line where each section of his amendment was germane to the bill. It became clear that the Majority was abusing their power and did not want the public to know their views on your right to own guns by going on the record with their votes.
While the bill included the incredibly important changes to our Criminal Sexual Conduct statute that I have been working on for the last several years, it includes too much bad policy to outweigh the good.
The Health and Human Services Omnibus bill would increase healthcare costs and raise the budget for health and human services by hundreds of millions of dollars each year. Additionally, it puts future budgets in jeopardy by increasing ongoing Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) rates using one-time federal money, and puts even more mandates and limitations on hospitals, insurers, and drug companies. Even with everything included in this bill, it does nothing to rein in the Governor's heavy handed COVID policies and executive orders.
Each of these bills are incredibly problematic and will require a lot of work in conference committees to bring them to a place that will benefit Minnesotans instead of harm them.
Please Contact Me
As always, if you need assistance on an issue pertaining to state government or have concerns or ideas about legislation, my office is available to you. You can e-mail at email@example.com or call my office at 651-296-5063. You can also write a letter to me. My office address at the Capitol is 357 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, St. Paul, MN 55155.