Legislative update from Rep. Mortensen (55A)

This Thursday I will again be pushing HC2 which is the Resolution to End Walz’ Emergency Powers. It’s been 10 months, the legislature is in session, it’s time to bring this Peacetime Emergency to an end and it’s time the Governor joined me and put his trust into the people of Minnesota to make decisions for themselves.

This will again be a crucial vote in our efforts to stop the Governor.

If you want to reach out to your elected officials check-out the link below from the Minnesota Legislature. 
Click HERE to find your Representative

Unfortunately, we still have an obstacle in the way of it passing: the six Democrats who recently betrayed their voters – Reps Gene Pelowski, Paul Marquart, Dave Lislegard, Julie Sandstede, Mike Sundin and Rob Ecklund.

Despite voting to End Walz’ Emergency Powers back in 2020 – when it was “easy” – they are now showing their true colors! All six of them have switched their votes in the beginning of January.

After three weeks in the capital I understand why Minnesotans are so frustrated with the legislative process in St. Paul. The system in place doesn’t seem to work anymore for everyday Minnesotans like us that are simply focused on working hard, doing what’s right and providing the best we can for our loved ones. Instead the beneficiaries have become the ruling-class and politically connected.  But I’m fighting this from the inside and want you to know that you’re welcome to connect with me to discuss your needs – so you are politically connected!

One of the biggest issues is that committee Chairs have far too much power. Even though I am still learning how they play their games here, I’m not messing around. I have already submitted five pieces of legislation and don’t plan to slow down now. You can see, and follow, my bills below. 

HF0200 School Board Recall Bill; Empowering people at the local level to recall elected officials that have lost the trust of their constituents.

HF0199 Fiscal Disparities Tax Repeal; Repealing the wealth redistributive property tax that decimates small business owners in both the metropolitan and iron range regions of the state.

HF0145 Repeal of CCAP; Child care assistance program rife with fraud with nobody from within the agency willing to take accountability or corrective actions.

HF0126 Suspension of Pay; Governor and legislator salary suspended when certain orders are issued restricting the operation or conduct of private business. If the Governor takes your paycheck, we take his.

HC2 End Walz Emergency Powers; A house concurrent resolution terminating the peacetime emergency.

Government Spending
Unaccountable bureaucrats think that they need a pay raise this year. The Democrats want you to think their Government agencies need more funding this year. They do this each biennium by saying we are running a deficit, but that’s not the full story. 

Government agencies quickly try to spend their funding at the end of each Fiscal year, in fact they are incentivized to do so. Why? Because if they don’t it could be argued they can operate with less. Their solution? Spend MORE! That way they can come back to the state and say “look we used all of our funding, so we need more for next year”. It’s policies like these that make the Democrats the “Tax and spend” party. If this year has taught us anything it’s that we cannot continue with irresponsible policies like these. We need to reign in government spending.

Listen to me HERE question the Commissioner of the Department of Revenue on where he would make cuts to his department like so many small businesses in our communities have had to do. This is all thanks to the Governor’s Executive orders, of course, which continue to keep businesses closed or at limited capacity. It is time to Reopen Minnesota now.  

Part of my line of questioning during committee meetings has been asking the various department and agency leaders what cuts they would make to their department if they were forced to make cuts like the thousands of Small Businesses AND hundreds of thousands of Minnesota families had to as a direct result of Governor Walz’ illegal and unconstitutional orders.
 
During a Tax Committee meeting this week I asked the Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Revenue this question. Guess what his response was? 
 
“I don’t understand the question”.

Online Inquiry Process Available for Covid-19 Business Relief Payments
Last week, the Minnesota Department of Revenue sent out the initial round of COVID-19 Business Relief Payments to nearly 4,000 eligible businesses across the state. This program, part of a bi-partisan COVID-19 relief legislation passed in December, offers direct relief payments to eligible restaurants, bars, gyms, and bowling centers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Businesses that did not receive a COVID-19 Business Relief Payment but think they meet the program criteria can contact the department HERE using their online inquiry process that is now available through Friday, February 5, 2021. Businesses can use this if their business either:

Did not receive a COVID-19 Business Relief Payment but they think the business met the program requirements.
Received a COVID-19 Business Relief Payment but they think the amount was wrong.
Businesses can find this online inquiry process by visiting revenue.state.mn.us and clicking “COVID-19 Business Relief Payments” found on the homepage.

Eligible businesses must meet the program requirements outlined in the legislation. Direct payment requirements for businesses include:
Being located in Minnesota
Had at least $10,000 in taxable sales in 2019
Filed Sales Tax returns in 2019 and 2020
Experienced a 30% drop in year-over-year taxable sales for April-September periods
Being categorized by the Minnesota Unemployment Insurance program as a restaurant, bar, gym, bowling center, or similar business

Direct funding to all of Minnesota’s 87 counties was also provided to set up local COVID-19 grant relief programs. Businesses not eligible for a direct payment from Revenue are encouraged to contact their local county for additional COVID-19 relief.

Repealing Fiscal Disparities Tax
This is a property tax “line item” which punishes small business owners by taking your tax dollars away from Shakopee, and sending them away to other cities like St. Paul.  This is quite literally a wealth redistributive tax and Minnesota is the only state in the country that uses it.

When I was running for office I promised to get rid of this unfair tax that puts an unnecessary burden on small businesses. Unfortunately, I found out quite quickly that those who benefit from this tax are less than willing to give it up.I sat down to meet with the Property Tax Committee Chair, Rep. Cheryl Youakim (DFL-46B), to discuss my bill that is expected to head to her committee. Within 30 seconds of our conversation she said she won’t be taking any action on my bill.  I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised as “wealth redistribution” is a high priority for my DFL colleagues.  

Removing Red Tape; Upholding my Promise
While most of my time in the capitol has been busy writing my own bills, I came across a bill (HF17) sponsored by my colleague Rep. Jamie Becker-Finn (DFL-42B) that helps cut bureaucratic tape. When I ran for office I said I would work with anyone, regardless of party, if they were fighting for less government intrusion in our personal lives. That is why I am happy to support this bipartisan piece of legislation.The bill has to deal with marriage licenses.

Normally you would have to go to the courthouse, sign a bunch of government documents, and pay the fee. In the face of COVID-19 they moved this process completely online so you no longer have to go in person. If you’re like me, you get anxiety anytime you have to go into a government building staffed with non-motivated bureaucrats to simply file some basic paperwork. HF17 takes away some of this angst. T

he original extension was set to expire this month. This bill extends the online portal until May. This is a great piece of bipartisan legislation I am glad to get behind. In fact, in committee I spoke in favor of making this easier process permanent instead of applying a five month band-aid. I am glad that I was able to reach across the aisle to help co-sponsor this phenomenal bipartisan legislation. 

Equal Shared Parenting
On the campaign trail I made a promise, that promise was to support Equal Shared Parenting. My predecessor deceived the community when he claimed to support this non-partisan, pro-family legislation but ultimately voted against it. I am happy to say I am the chief author of the Equal Shared Parenting bill so you can be assured I will be honoring my word and supporting this effort.Every child deserves the right to have a happy and safe home and have equal time with loving parents.

When a parent can’t make their marriage work it’s not the kids we should be punishing. The current law creates unnecessary conflict between parents.  Just today I spoke to a father who spent over $225,000 just to get 50/50 shared parenting. Now he says his ex-wife and him are best friends but the courts pitted them against each other through the divorce process.

Of course it’s the Minnesota Bar Association that rejects this common sense legislation.  Many legislators here cower in the corner from this powerful special interest group, but they are of no concern to me.  My concern is children having access to their parents and loving parents not having to spend their entire retirement savings to see their children. 
First Day of Session
Contact
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me or my office. We are still attempting to provide regular contact remotely so if you have other needs, please email my Legislative Assistant, Grayson, at Grayson.mcnew@house.mn.

Watch the Minnesota House on Public TV Video: Streaming Website. Also you can watch committees and Floor Sessions on YouTube.

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