Legislative session comes to a close

Representative Brian Johnson
District 32A

Our work at the Capitol for this year’s legislative session came to a close last week and I have some mixed results to report. This was my first year in the Minnesota House of Representatives, and I can’t thank the people of our district enough for giving me the opportunity to serve you. It has been a great learning experience; I have devoted much of my time on areas such as public safety, legal reform, and creating a balanced budget that grows our economy. Unfortunately, the session ended with significant changes to some of our laws and over $2 billion in new taxes on Minnesotans. Many of these changes are not what’s best for our district or the state, but were enacted to serve special interests that wielded significant influence over the legislative process.

I was proud to have my first piece of legislation pass the House and Senate with broad, bipartisan support and be signed by Governor Dayton. The new law raises penalties for wildfire arson so that county attorneys can better prosecute damages to property caused by these criminals. Another effort of mine was also passed into law, a change to our tax code making it easier for deployed military to stay current on their property taxes while they are serving our country. Both of these ideas for reform came from citizens in our district.

As a member of the Public Safety Committee and a retired law enforcement officer for Isanti County, I took strong steps to stand up for common sense and the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners in our area. Democrats spent nearly two months during the beginning of session focused on divisive new gun restriction ideas that would have piled unnecessary burdens on our hunters and sportsmen in order to make a political statement. In the end, these changes did not have the support of the public and were defeated by legislators from both parties.

Our main responsibility in odd-numbered years is to craft a balanced budget for the people of Minnesota. While the Democrat majority had five months to do this, they saved every single major budget bill for the last minute, passing close to $40 billion in state spending over the course of 4 days and shoving through a tax bill in the final hours of session that makes Minnesota a shining example of runaway spending. Taxes on higher income earners, small businesses, tobacco users, agriculture processors, corporations, and other manufacturers will increase substantially. The new rate of 9.85 percent on individuals earning $150,000 per year will be one of the highest in the nation and the world, driving away investment and discouraging innovation. While Minnesota’s economy makes great improvements, this job-killing plan could bring us back to an environment we experienced during the Great Recession.

Many of you took my 2013 Legislative Survey, and most of you opposed new tax increases and higher government spending. The most overwhelming response to my survey came on the issue of forced unionization of home child care providers. Over 85 percent of respondents in our district opposed this idea, but in the final hours of the session, Democrats passed this overreaching law by just one vote. There has already been a lawsuit filed to stop this unprecedented intrusion into independent small businesses and I hope that the issue is resolved as soon as possible. Unionizing neighborhood child care providers creates a slippery slope for unionizing other independent businesses in our society and presents a very scary scenario.

Please contact me during the interim with your ideas, questions or concerns. It is an honor representing you in St. Paul.

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