On March 22 the legislature began its 12th week. When the Easter break is included, we will be at the two-thirds point in this legislative session. That leaves only six weeks of actual legislative session time before the Minnesota Constitution requires the legislature to adjourn.
So far the House has passed a total of 10 bills. That is the least productive performance in modern times for the Minnesota House of Representatives.
While it could be understood in the days of quill pens and ink wells, there is no legitimate reason for the majority party in the House to continue to delay time-sensitive bills including SAFE Account funding, which sets aside $35 million for mutual aid agreements for anticipated law enforcement response for the Derek Chauvin trial and other public safety sensitive events. This bill has failed twice on the House floor. Why? Because it funds, rather than defunds law enforcement agencies for mutual aid emergency responses.
Minnesota is the only state in the Midwest that has not exempted forgiven federal PPP loan payments. Without that exemption, Minnesota businesses collectively owe several hundred million dollars in state income taxes simply for using the PPP funds as intended by the federal government. The Senate already passed that bill with a veto-proof majority on a 55-12 vote, but it remains stalled in the House.
A bill exempting $10,200 in federally provided Unemployment Insurance (UI) income is also stalled in the House. That federally provided UI income is exempt from federal income taxes, but unless Minnesota conforms to the federal exemption, those people who were out of work and on employment in 2020 due to the COIVD-19 shutdown are in for a big surprise tax bill.
Another important bill providing funds to school districts is also being slow-walked. It provides funds so school districts can plan for the level of summer school needed to catch up the students that fell behind because of the COVID-19 mandated distance learning. Our school districts need the assurance that funding is there so they can effectively plan now to catch up our students.
These bills should not be mired down in partisan party politics, these are problems that need to be resolved right now for the citizens of Minnesota.
Dale Lueck (R) is the state representative for District 10B.