It's been a tough year for Minnesota businesses and families. The pandemic and subsequent executive orders from Governor Walz have kept our students out of the classroom, forced businesses to close their doors, and caused a spike in unemployment.
You would think that given the challenges our state is facing, Democrats in charge of the Minnesota House would be ready to step up to get work done on behalf of Minnesotans.
Instead, it's been the least productive start to a legislative session in modern history. House Democrats have passed just five bills — most of which are minor things like date changes that help government but have little impact on the lives of Minnesotans. That's the fewest number of bills passed at this point in session since at least 1995.
Democrats have failed to take action on funding our law enforcement. They've failed to protect Main Street businesses who received Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans from getting hit with unexpected tax bills. And they've failed to protect workers from state tax hikes on their unemployment benefits.
Their historically unproductive session has real-life consequences for Minnesotans in the form of higher taxes on businesses and workers.
House Republicans have tried unsuccessfully to get these issues moving, but faced resistance from the do-nothing Democrats who have decided to use these issues for political leverage rather than doing right by Minnesotans.
Right now, Minnesota is the only state in the upper Midwest who is still taxing forgiven Paycheck Protection Loans. These loans were forgiven because they were used as intended by the federal government: to keep workers employed and to keep the lights on at these businesses.
Democrats seem content to allow the government to profit off federal relief funds. Instead of letting businesses keep these dollars to keep our neighbors employed, Democrats want that money going into the state coffers which are flush with cash. Minnesota has $1.6 billion surplus, and billions more coming from the federal government. If ever there was a time to let Minnesotans keep their hard-earned money, this is it.
Minnesotans who have been unemployed over the past year are filing their taxes and surprised to find that unemployment insurance benefits — which are exempted up to $10,200 at the federal level — are subject to state taxes. Again, the government is set to profit from federal relief intended to help workers. This is indefensible and frankly immoral.
Democrats have also failed to deliver for our police and law enforcement working to protect public safety. Instead of setting aside funding to help prevent another repeat of last summer's riots during the Chauvin trial in Minneapolis, Democrats have stalled and tried to bog down the bill with controversial policy language. The result? They can't even pass their own bill off the House floor. Instead of working with us to pass a reasonable compromise, they do nothing. The governor asked for this law enforcement funding months ago, and in the 11th week of session we still have no results.
This week, House Republicans attempted to bring these issues to the floor for debate. Once again every Democrat voted to block them. The Senate took action on PPP tax relief and passed their bill with 55 votes — overwhelming bipartisan support, and a veto-proof majority. Instead of taking action to address these issues, House Democrats offer Minnesota workers and businesses nothing but empty words and excuses.
If Democrats aren't willing to get the work done that Minnesotans expect of us, they need to get out of the way and let those who are interested in getting things done debate, amend, and pass these bills on the House floor. Let's work together to pass bills that address the problems families and business are facing. Minnesotans deserve nothing less.
Kurt Daudt is the Republican Minnesota House Minority Leader.