Nelson: Next session will be a ‘fix-it’ one
Next year’s Minnesota Legislative session will be a “fix-it” session, Sen. Carla Nelson (R-24), told members of the Kasson Chamber of Commerce last week.
The 2023 session, she said, was indeed historic, although not always in positive ways.
From a local standpoint, she said she found securing funding to help in Kasson’s flood mitigation programs and the intersection changes at Highway 14 and County Road 44 particularly gratifying.
She also said efforts for border-to-border broadband and continued funding for Rochester International Airport were also positive actions.
The “rest of the story,” Nelson said, was not so positive.
The legislature reduced a $19 billion surplus to $17.5 billion and in addition approved $9 billion in new taxes, she said. Some residents, but not everyone, did get a tax refund from the surplus but 20 percent of Minnesotans did not because their income is too low and those in the higher brackets also did not get a refund.
“These are a few of the things that left us wondering,” she said of her caucus.
Another issue of concern, she said, is the paid family medical leave bill that passed the legislature and was signed by the governor. She said that what she heard from Minnesotans is that they wanted the leave but the way the bill was written has become a new employment tax. The state now says that the leave must be offered the way it says and not the way employers and employees want it done. The state, she said, now mandates leave be at 60 percent for a set number of weeks but in some cases the way individual businesses offered the leave was actually working better for the employees and was what they wanted. The legislation, she said, was passed before consideration was given to determining if the new program would bring in enough revenue to pay for itself.
The legislation that specified what School Resource Officers could and could not do in restraining students was also passed without considering all the ramifications, she said. A number of Minnesota law enforcement agencies opted out of agreements with school districts to provide SRO services.
“We have a lot of work to do,” she said. “The next session will be a ‘fix-it’ session.”
In response to a question from a chamber member, Nelson said, that the legislators are aware of the “huge problem” facing ambulance services in greater Minnesota. Outstate communities need these services, she said, and legislators will work to see that these public service areas have access to the funding they need to provide them.