The 2021 legislative session ended May 17 with the Legislature failing to finish its work on the state budget; however, the governor and legislative leaders agreed to a high-level budget framework before adjournment.

The Legislature has until June 30 to pass a new state budget to avoid a state government shutdown. The expectation is that a special session will be called in June to finalize and pass budget bills.

While many details of a new budget need to be hammered out, there is now agreement on no tax increases and full tax exemption on federal Paycheck Protection Program loans and Unemployment Insurance. Tax exemption for PPP loans and Unemployment Insurance should have been passed months ago, allowing businesses and individuals the opportunity to take this into account when filing their taxes.

It is disappointing that House Democrats refused to pass these tax exemptions earlier in session, instead taking these bipartisan provisions hostage as part of the broader budget negotiations. We could have avoided much confusion this tax season and lowered Minnesotans’ tax bills, but my Democrat colleagues opted to play political games instead.

As part of the ongoing budget negotiations, I will be pushing for an end to the governor’s emergency powers. Vaccines are readily available, infection rates are dwindling, and our state no longer faces an “emergency.” As we enter our 15th month under the governor’s emergency powers, Minnesotans are saying enough is enough. We can return to normal governance in Minnesota.

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I will also advocate for stopping the governor’s push to require Minnesota’s cars to adhere to California’s regulations. The governor is seeking to implement this policy through administrative rule rather than the Legislature. If enacted, the California Car Mandate would raise the cost of new vehicles for Minnesota families by $1,000 or more, reduce consumer choice, and make Minnesota the only state in the Midwest to place these burdensome regulations on auto dealerships.

In any case, the budget is far from a finished product. I will continue working until the budget is finalized to help ensure our area’s priorities are reflected in the Legislature’s finished product. Tax relief and PPP/UI legislation should be forgone conclusions at this point given our state’s historic surplus. Let’s see what kind of headway can be made to help people get back on track after a year of setbacks and restore our representative system of government.