Sen. Gene Dornink: Working through special session

Published 6:30 am Saturday, June 26, 2021

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Friends and neighbors,

The Senate has worked through 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. I ran on the idea of ‘one bill, one vote’, which is completely contradictory to this omnibus bill process we’ve been working through. 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 attached to state funding. I am proud of much of the work we were able to accomplish and will continue working on finalizing our State budget.

We passed the Agriculture Budget, which focuses on farmers in the field instead of bureaucrats in St. Paul. Targeted investments will help famers recover and ensure our rural communities are able to thrive. Provisions I brought forward this Session are included; we are providing more mental health resources for farmers, funding for county fairs, and investing in agriculture research and rural development. I am excited to see more advancements being put forward for the agriculture community and look forward to seeing the positive impacts on our community.

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I am especially proud of the work done with the Education budget. We have made a point to focus on families, students, and teachers. We reached an agreement to provide the largest education funding increase in 15 years without the burdensome mandates that restrict the local districts’ ability to appropriate their own funds. It was important to us that the money go straight into the classrooms for students. Unfortunately, my bill to expand our school’s ability to hire short call substitute teachers, who are in short supply, was blocked by the House Democrats. They don’t want local control.

The DVS testing locations in our communities have been a concern for many as the Department of Public Safety considers permanent closures. I authored a bill to ensure those locations stay open and fully operational for years to come. My bill has been included in the Transportation budget. People in our rural communities are entitled to the same public services granted to those in larger cities. Freeborn County Commissioner Ted Herman has been a tireless advocate for this legislation, even speaking to the Senate Transportation committee. I greatly appreciate his support.

On Wednesday, it was announced that New York Gov. Cuomo will not be renewing his emergency powers as they expire this week. This is almost laughable to most Minnesotans, I think. Gov. Walz is continuing to hold onto emergency powers even as the most radical governors in the country agree that the emergency is over. Protocols have been in place for months and numbers are at an all-time low – Governor Walz is not following the science as he claims. Speaker of the House Melissa Hortman has even mentioned that Walz must, at some point, come to the same conclusion. When will that be? What political goal is he chasing? I look forward to the ninth vote to remove the emergency powers and will celebrate when the House joins us.

Budget agreements are wrapping up and I am confident that we will have a budget by July 1st, avoiding shutdown. I encourage you to reach out to me with any legislative questions, comments, or concerns you may have. I can be reached by email at Sen.Gene.Dorrnink@Senate.MN or call me at 651-296-5240.