Dornink working to move Minnesota past the pandemic
By David Mayberry
Sen. Gene Dornink wants Minnesota to move past the pandemic, and his proposals to the 2021 Legislature reflect his push to find some of what life was like before COVID-19.
“I am looking forward to getting our children back in school. Safely and fully reopening our schools is a top priority,” the Hayfield Republican said.
“We also need to continue lifting restrictions on businesses and get people back to work.”
Dornink, in his first term in St. Paul, is listed as the lead author in no fewer than 23 bills and attached his name to at least another 34.
Dornink’s assiduous work speaks to his desire that the Legislature play a larger role in decision-making this session. He doesn’t want Gov. Tim Walz making “unilateral decisions” this year.
“The Legislature is the voice of the people,” he said, “and ensuring that we have a seat at the table when decisions are being made … will make this a successful legislative session.”
Of immediate concern to businesses this time of year is a finance bill that would eliminate state taxes on funds received from the Payroll Protection Program. The measure would conform to federal regulations and also expand options for corporate registration with the state.
On the education side, Dornink wants to ease regulations for “short-call” substitute teachers, as well as provide training for health care workers in the Bridges to Healthcare bill.
Dornink added seven agriculture bills on Thursday, as well.
Most were standard funding provisions — farm advocate services, international trade promotion, county fairs, research, and Rural Finance Authority.
One also increased funding for Second Harvest Heartland, while another directed the Commissioner of Agriculture to distribute $50,000 toward mental health services in rural areas.
Among his earliest filings were bills to update Austin’s wastewater treatment facility and also fund the final round of dredging at Fountain Lake in Albert Lea.
“I am focused on bills that will directly benefit my constituents,” he said.
He’s signed on to the Senate version of a term limits bill that would cap service in the Legislature at 20 years. Bennett is also the lead legislator on that bill in the House.
While not a part of the author team for Senate File 1, Dornink is a vocal supporter. It passed a third vote on Thursday and is under consideration by the House.
SF1 would require legislative approval for future public health emergency orders and allow businesses to continue operation during the pandemic if they implement their own safety plans and “make a good faith effort” to operate in a safe manner.
“After a year of constant changes, it is time for Minnesotans to act independently to do what is best for their circumstances,” Dornink said.