Sen. Gene Dornink: First weeks of session busy

Published 5:55 pm Friday, February 11, 2022

Friends and neighbors,

We are officially underway with the 2022 legislative session and are moving full steam ahead. In the first two weeks of the 2022 legislative session, we are working hard to get Minnesotans on the right track to safer communities and affording life in the face of growing inflation.

Last week, the Minnesota Senate rolled out a $65 million C.O.P.S. Program, which stands for “Creating Opportunities in Public Safety.” The proposals focus on recruitment to address the peace officer shortage affecting the entire state. It includes six different bills to help people get their degree in law enforcement, encourage mid-career people to consider a career change, fund a marketing campaign, and education reimbursements for those who have recently entered the field. Local control and input are incredibly important, especially when we’re addressing public safety. Accordingly, I have spoken to and continue to work with our local law enforcement.

The C.O.P.S. program will help recruit and train future officers, which is necessary to ensure we have brave men and women from our communities keeping us safe. This is just the first step we are taking to address the growing crime problems and the availability of qualified candidates to serve as peace officers. With record early retirements and people leaving the force faster than departments can fill the vacancies, we will be offering a plan to help retain the officers we still have. Law enforcement is an honorable career path that deserves our respect and admiration. The complete disregard for the service and sacrifice made by our law enforcement needs to end.

Earlier this week, the Minnesota Senate announced a plan to pay off the Unemployment Insurance (UI) Trust Fund debt owed to the federal government. The $2.73 billion in appropriations would pay back the debt we owe to the federal government and replenish the UI fund for the future. Minnesota is currently paying approximately $50,000 a day on interest charges to the federal government for our loan. Our small businesses did everything they could to keep their doors open and employees on the payroll while trying to navigate through unforeseen lockdowns, restrictions, and mandates. I have heard from dozens of our community businesses and if the State doesn’t pay off this debt, our small business community will be stuck paying the bill. Thousands of Minnesotans relied on the UI Trust Fund while laid off. Keeping this fund available for the future is crucial to keeping our economy moving.

We are only two weeks into this legislative session. Still, I am focused and committed to making Minnesota a better place for all to live with safe communities and making life more affordable. It is my honor to serve you.