Senate Report: Work On Track To Avoid State Government Shutdown – Albert Lea Tribune
Senate Report by Gene Dornink
The Senate worked during this special session, focusing on balancing the budget and helping our communities. Unfortunately we didn’t get everything we wanted and gave up more than I had hoped for. I ran on the idea of a bill, of a vote, which is totally at odds with this omnibus bill process that we are working on. I will continue to advocate for a more open process where individual policies can be debated, one at a time, and voted on without being tied to state funding. I am proud of much of the work we have been able to accomplish and will continue to work on finalizing our state budget.
We passed the agriculture budget, which focuses on the farmers on the ground rather than the bureaucrats in Saint Paul. Targeted investments will help farmers recover and ensure our rural communities are able to thrive. The provisions I put forward this session are included; we are providing more mental health resources to farmers, funding county fairs, and investing in agricultural research and rural development. I am excited to see further advancements being made for the farming community and look forward to seeing the positive impacts on our community.
I am particularly proud of the work accomplished with the education budget. We have made it a point of honor to focus on families, students and teachers. We have reached an agreement to provide the largest increase in education funding in 15 years without the burdensome mandates that restrict the ability of local districts to secure their own funds. It was important to us that the money went directly to the classrooms of the students. Unfortunately, my bill to expand our school’s ability to hire short-term substitute teachers, who are in short supply, was blocked by House Democrats. They don’t want local control.
DVS testing sites in our communities have been a concern for many as the Department of Public Safety considers permanent closures. I drafted a bill to ensure that these locations remain open and fully operational for years to come. My bill was included in the transport budget. People in our rural communities are entitled to the same public services as those in large cities. Freeborn County Commissioner Ted Herman has been a tireless advocate for this legislation, even speaking to the Senate Transport Committee. I greatly appreciate his support.
On Wednesday, it was announced that New York Governor Cuomo will not be renewing his emergency powers as they expire this week. It’s almost laughable for most Minnesotans, I think. Governor Walz continues to retain emergency powers even as the country’s most radical governors agree the emergency is over. The protocols have been in place for months and the numbers are at an all-time low – Governor Walz is not following the science as he claims. House Speaker Melissa Hortman even mentioned that Walz must, at some point, come to the same conclusion. When will it happen? What political objective is he pursuing? I look forward to the ninth vote to remove emergency powers and will celebrate when the House joins us.
Budget deals are coming to an end and I am confident we will have a budget by July 1, avoiding closure. I encourage you to contact me with any questions, comments, or legislative concerns you may have. I can be contacted by email at [email protected], or call me at 651-296-5240.
Gene Dornink, R-Hayfield, is the Senator for District 27.