The Minnesota Legislature kicked off its 2020 legislative session Tuesday, but the House began with an unexpected debate about whether or not it should even be meeting.
State Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R-Mazeppa) motioned to adjourn sine die, which means adjourning without coming back until the next session. Drazkowski, the leader of the New House Republican Caucus, said the state government is already funded through June 2021 and “nothing” needs to be accomplished before the close of session.
“Here we are in the second year of a legislative biennium. Government has already been increased by six to 10 percent, depending on how you measure it. Members, people of Minnesota, Minnesota’s state government is fully funded through June 30, 2021. So last session the biennial budget for the full two years was passed and I’m pleased to announce, Madam Speaker and members, Minnesota state government is fully funded today,” Drazkowski said.
“People will ask: well what is there to accomplish here in this legislative session? If the government is fully funded and operational, there’s no need for us to further meet,” he added.
He said it would be safer for the Legislature to go home, since Democrats plan to “take away guns from law-abiding Minnesota citizens,” smother “their Constitutional rights,” and increase funding for welfare programs.
“Members, people of Minnesota, those are only a few of the things that House Democrats have pledged to do with your money, your kids, your freedoms, and your Constitutional rights between now and May 18,” he continued. “The people of Minnesota need to be put on notice, beware: your Minnesota Legislature is in session now. Additionally, we already know nothing needs to be accomplished this session.”
Drazkowski pointed to a Monday article from the “non-partisan, public information office of the Minnesota House,” which claimed that “nothing” has to be accomplished this year.
“That’s what Minnesotans are aware of. That’s what people around this place know. Nothing has to be accomplished this session but the question is: what are the risks? There are no budgets to pass, no policy that will be agreed upon by the Republican Senate and the Democrat governor and Democrat House. As such, we are only just wasting tens of thousands of dollars each and every day that this Legislature meets,” said Drazkowski. “If we don’t have anything we have to accomplish, we should go home and relieve them of what could be freedom-robbing and money-robbing activities of this Legislature.”
He noted that other states such as Texas, Nevada, Montana and North Dakota only meet once every two years and concluded his remarks with a criticism of House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt (R-Crown), who accepted a position with a lobbying firm while still serving as a state legislator.
“Members, we should adjourn now and protect the citizens of Minnesota from what’s about to come. After all, it would give our one lobbyist legislator more time for his other job,” he said.
Daudt then rose to object to Drazkowski’s motion, saying he wants “the opportunity to give Minnesotans their money back.”
“Unfortunately, what Rep. Drazkowski is wrong about is that state government isn’t fully funded, it’s more than fully funded. We have a $1.3 billion surplus and I do not want to miss the opportunity to right the wrong that happened in the last session,” said Daudt. “If we go along with Rep. Drazkowski, Minnesotans will not get their money back and I don’t want to miss the opportunity to vote to give Minnesotans their money back because Minnesota government has collected too much money.”
Drazkowski replied by pointing out that government spending increased under Daudt’s tenure as speaker of the Minnesota House.
“Under his leadership, it grew nine percent in two different bienniums. The track record shows that if we stick around here longer, our government’s going to grow bigger, our freedoms are going to be stolen, and we’re safer if the Legislature goes home,” he said.
The motion ultimately failed to pass, but Drazkowski claimed on Facebook later in the afternoon that the Legislature will spend $2.1 million on operational costs during the 2020 session.
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