We are officially at the halfway mark of the 2021 legislative session, and it is turning into the least productive in modern history. In fact, through the first ten weeks of session, the House had passed just five bills, the fewest at this point in session since at least 1995 – as far back as records are available on the House website.
As a small-government conservative, maybe it is not the worst thing that bills have not been flying through committee and off the House floor. This is especially true when Democrats are running the House because their bills often only serve to grow the size of government and limit personal liberty.
However, there are several bipartisan, common sense bills that we could pass today that would provide relief to Minnesotans and small businesses that have been harmed by Governor Walz’s harmful shutdowns.
That’s why this week, House Republicans brought four bills to the House floor to address a handful of these pressing issues. Simply put, if Democrats are paralyzed and unwilling to work on pressing issues like funding law enforcement, protecting Minnesota businesses and workers from tax hikes, and helping students get caught up after a year of distance learning, then Republicans stand ready to lead.
Here is a brief rundown of the four bills/issues that we forced votes on this week:
• The SAFE Account, which sets aside $35 million for mutual aid agreements for anticipated law enforcement response for the Chauvin trial and other major public safety events. That bill has been stalled since the House DFL proposal failed twice weeks ago on the House floor. House Republicans have put forward a compromise proposal that was endorsed by the Star Tribune Editorial Board.
• Exempting forgiven Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan income from state taxes. Currently, Minnesota is the only state in the upper Midwest that has yet to exempt forgiven PPP loan payments. Without action, businesses could owe hundreds of thousands of dollars or more in state income taxes simply for using the PPP funds as intended by the federal government. The Senate passed a PPP tax relief bill last week with a veto-proof majority on a 55-12 vote.
• Exempting $10,200 in Unemployment Insurance income, the same exempted by the federal government.
• Funding for schools to offer in-person summer school programming via a bill that would utilize the expected funds coming in from the federal government to help defray the cost of in-person summer school learning to help students catch up from a year of distance learning, along with funding for student mental health, as well as early learning scholarships.
These bills could have easily passed on a bipartisan basis. Sadly, House Democrats refused to put up the votes needed. We need to get to work and not let these priorities get caught up in budget bill politics and cannot afford to wait until May to make sure we’re helping workers, Main Street businesses, schools, and law enforcement.
STAYING IN TOUCH
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