Sen. Gene Dornink: Senate approves investments for some of Minnesota’s most vulnerable communities

Published 6:04 pm Friday, April 21, 2023

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Friends and neighbors,

 We are at the point in the legislative session where our focus shifts to primarily hearing and debating budget bills on the floor. After they pass out of the Senate, many of these bills will go to conference committee. If they’re changed there, the Senate will vote again.

 This week, the Minnesota Senate approved the budget bill from the Human Services Committee to help stabilize the state’s struggling long-term care facilities. This legislation provides significant resources for disability and long-term care services, investing in some of Minnesota’s most vulnerable communities. It also offers additional funding for a grant program to provide for state-funded home and community-based services in rural and underserved communities.

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 We had strong bipartisan support from the Senate, but we are not done yet. While I supported the bill to help Minnesota seniors, there are some issues with this legislation that need to be addressed. It is critical to get more aggressive support to address the severe staffing shortages facing our nursing homes. In Minnesota alone, there have been 45 nursing home closures, and more will be forced to close if we don’t address the staffing shortage. Our nursing homes require the funding necessary to guarantee Minnesota seniors have the kind of care they need and deserve.

 Another notable piece of legislation that we got this week from the Democrats is the State Government budget bill. This hyper-partisan legislation will increase the state government operating budget by nearly 40%. With Minnesotans struggling to afford costs in their daily lives, the last thing our taxpayers need is to foot the bill for more and more bureaucrats. Family budgets have not grown by 40% over the last four years, and certainly, they will not grow by 40% over the next four  years. With a $17.5 billion surplus, we should be looking to give this money back to hard-working Minnesotans to make life more affordable.

 Additionally, last week, the Democrats passed a Public Safety bill that risks the safety of all Minnesotans. This bill makes thousands of convicted felons eligible for early release, fails to close gaps in the law necessary for holding criminals accountable, and does not deliver justice to victims of violent crime.

 Under this legislation, 92% of the prison population becomes eligible for early release through the Minnesota Rehabilitation and Reinvestment Act (MRRA). The MRRA reduces the amount of incarceration time to one-half of the sentence. Since it is applied retroactively, it could impact about 7,400 of the approximately 8,000 prisoners in the state. Convicted criminals currently spend two-thirds of their time in incarceration, and the rest on supervised release.

 The legislation provides very little assistance for law enforcement. Instead, the bill funnels $91 million to untested and unproven non-profit organizations. These nonprofits cannot arrest criminals, and therefore, are not in a position to address violent crimes in their communities. But at least every left-wing organization advocating for lawlessness will be well-funded.

 One of the big issues I regularly hear about is the threat of surging crime in communities across our state. We should be passing policies that send a clear message: if you commit a serious crime in Minnesota, you will face serious time behind bars. The Democrats’ soft-on-crime Public Safety budget will achieve the exact opposite.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact me. I want to hear your thoughts and your priorities for this legislative session! Feel free to email me at or give me a call at 651-296-5240.