Guest Opinion: A disappointing start to the legislative session
I am holding out hope that eventually the Democrat majority in the Minnesota House of Representatives will come to their senses.
The first month of the 2023 legislative session has officially ended and the pace of things in St. Paul is unlike anything I’ve ever seen.
In my January column I reported on a successful bipartisan effort to conform Minnesota's tax laws to federal tax code, sadly, instead of working to reach consensus on a variety of issues that benefit all Minnesotans, Democrats in the legislature have now pushed a hyper partisan agenda that leaves me concerned about the future of our state.
Most disappointing was the passage and signing into law by Governor Walz of the most extreme abortion bill in America. The law now makes abortion available at any time during pregnancy up until birth for any reason, no questions asked.
During debate on the bill, we offered several amendments that would have provided guardrails to protect women and the unborn. This included efforts to license abortion facilities, prohibiting third trimester abortions except for when the life of the mother is at risk, requiring medical care be rendered to babies that survive an abortion, and parental notification requirements.
I supported those pro-life amendments, and many more, but they were rejected by Democrats.
By refusing to accept these commonsense guardrails, Democrats are aligning Minnesota’s abortion policy with nations like North Korea and China. Remember, when Governor Walz ran for office last year, he said that he did not support abortion up until the moment of birth. By signing this bill, he failed to keep his promises to Minnesotans.
Another bill that was approved by the House last month would give undocumented immigrants the ability to obtain a Class D Minnesota driver’s license. This is an issue that has been discussed at the capitol for several years.
One major change in this year's bill when compared to previous years is that the driver’s licenses granted will be identical to those that legal residents and citizens use. Earlier versions included language on the license that read, "Not for Voting Purposes" and were vertically oriented. Now, they will be identical to standard Class D licenses.
We offered amendments that would have required disclaimers on the driver’s licenses — making clear that they could not be used for voting purposes. Unsurprisingly, House Democrats voted this amendment and many others down.
Election integrity is something that should be a bipartisan priority. Sadly, this bill will further undermine many Minnesotans’ faith in the electoral process.
Finally, Governor Walz introduced details of his budget proposal. In total, his budget would spend $65 billion over the next two years — this represents nearly a 25% growth in government spending when compared to the budget that was approved in 2021.
With that, the governor is proposing significant tax increases as part of his budget. This is especially disappointing at a time when the state has a $17.6 billion budget surplus. A surplus of this size is clear evidence that you are being overtaxed, we should be giving this surplus back to you, not raising your taxes even more.
Remember, the budget proposal is just that — a proposal. The governor starts this conversation, but it is the duty of the Legislature to debate and appropriate the funding bills that will constitute the budget. That work will take place over the next three months.
Despite the disappointing first month of the legislative session, I am holding out hope that eventually the Democrat majority in the House will come to their senses. With that said, I understand that at the end of the day, they have the votes to pass whatever they want, with or without our help. I hope they remember that their majority is a slim one and that Republican House Districts represent 48% of Minnesotans.
Heintzeman, R-Nisswa, represents District 6B in the Minnesota House of Representatives.