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Guest Opinion: No shortage of issues for the upcoming legislative session

The biggest issue will be what to do with the state’s $7.7 billion budget surplus, the largest on record.

Josh Heintzeman
Rep. Josh Heintzeman

The 2022 legislative session is set to begin on Jan. 31 and there will be no shortage of issues waiting for us as we head to St. Paul. Perhaps none is bigger than what to do with the state’s $7.7 billion budget surplus. This surplus is the largest on record, making clear that while so many continue to struggle with high inflation, your government has been over-collecting from hard-working taxpayers.

For those reasons, a high priority for lawmakers this legislative session should be to return this surplus back to Minnesotans.

There are a lot of ways we could do this. One option could be to eliminate state taxes on Social Security, making Minnesota a more welcoming home for seniors — especially those on fixed incomes. Instead of a targeted approach, some are suggested we send rebates to folks or cut income taxes across the board.

One thing is certain, the state’s significant surplus should mean that any talk of tax increases should be off the table entirely.

I also look forward to exploring ways the Legislature can support law enforcement and address rising levels of crime. It’s no secret that there’s been an explosion of violent crime in the Twin Cities as crime rates have surged astronomically over the past 24 months.

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Minneapolis and St. Paul are on a record pace for murders and according to the Star Tribune carjackings were up 537% from November 2019 to November 2020 and an additional 40% in 2021. A statewide report released in July by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension showed a 17% spike in violent crime in 2020, including a 58% increase in murders, a 20% increase in car thefts, and a 62% increase in assaults against on-duty law enforcement.

While these issues are concentrated in the metro area, many of us visit the Twin Cities on a regular basis or have families that live in the cities and worry about their safety.

It is critical that we continue to push back against the radical defund the police agenda being advocated for by some House Democrats. Instead, we should work with law enforcement to make sure that our communities and neighborhoods are safe.

As the Republican-lead on the House Environment and Natural Resources Committee, I will once again be spearheading efforts to preserve Minnesota’s rich natural resources for the next generation.

This includes working hard to preserve those natural resources while providing a check on burdensome rules and job-killing regulations from the Department of Natural Resources and Pollution Control Agency. As legislators, we must strike a balance on policies that enrich our God-given natural resources while avoiding the pitfalls of the past that have only served to grow government at the expense of freedom and prosperity.

While we live in uncertain times with sometimes difficult decisions to make as lawmakers, I promise to always use both the United States and Minnesota Constitutions as my guide when determining how I will vote on a particular bill. The liberties we enjoy as Americans are sacred and must be preserved for generations to come. I commit to you that I will keep this eternal truth front of mind as I work for you in St. Paul.

There are many additional topics that will be debated this year at the legislature, and I encourage you to reach out to me to share your priorities. You can reach me at rep.josh.heintzeman@house.mn or 651-296-4333.

Heintzeman, R-Nisswa, represents District 10A in the Minnesota House of Representatives

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