Sen. Weber’s 1.8.21 Legislative Update

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year Senate District 22. May the New Year bring you happiness, peace, and prosperity. Wishing you and your loved ones a brighter 2021!

Oath of Office and the First Days of Session

Minnesota’s 2021 Legislative Session officially began on January 5. Along with 66 other State Senators, I took part in a swearing-in to office during a ceremony at the State Capitol.

I am humbled once again by the trust and support that the people of Cottonwood, Jackson, Lincoln, Lyon, Murray, Nobles, Pipestone, Redwood, and Rock counties have placed in me to represent Senate District 22 in the state legislature,” said Sen. Weber. “With the state reeling from the pandemic and consequent lockdowns, we need to work across the aisle to open Minnesota back up. We need to get our children back and school, our businesses open, and hardworking folks back in their jobs. Together, we can put the darkest days of the pandemic behind us and undo the damage from harmful one-size-fits-all shutdowns and rebuild Minnesota’s economy to increase opportunities for everyone.

To watch my video on the start of session, click the link.

Senator Weber’s Committees for 2021-2022

During the first few weeks of the session, most of my work will occur in Senate Committees. During the 2021-2022 session, I have been appointed to serve on the following committees:

  • Chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Property Taxes
  • Vice-Chair of the Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Legacy Finance Committee
  • Rules and Administration Committee
  • Taxes Committee

I am excited to serve as Chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Property Taxes. In the early weeks of session, I anticipate receiving an overview from the Department of Revenue on property taxes and input from constituents and residents from across Minnesota and shape the year’s agenda. Taxes will be a significant issue this year as we craft our budget. With a conservative majority only in the Senate, I will be committed to delivering government efficiently while protecting our taxpayers from out-of-control spending and an assault on your wallets.

Thank You, Alec Biorn!

I want to take this time to thank my CLA, Alec Biorn, for his service to District 22 constituents and others.  Alec has been with me since March of 2018 but has now received a promotion to Committee Administrator for the State Government Comm.  and the Reform and Technology Comm.  Many of you have complimented me on Alec’s respectful handling of his duties at my front desk.  There is no question that a senator’s LA is the public face for the office and I truly appreciate the  time and effort Alec has given to the role.  That job includes not only keeping  a senator’s schedule straight but also answering phone calls, researching to find answers to questions and sometimes fielding complaints.  Alec has done all those things with a quiet resolve and polite response and I wish him well in his new responsibilities.

Minnesota’s Budget Forecast

On December 2,the Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) released its annual November budget forecast, showing an estimated budget surplus of  $1.332 billion for the 2020-2021 biennium. The forecast, which is updated twice each year to reflect the state’s revenues and expenditures, will be used to guide the consideration of a supplemental budget during the upcoming legislative session.

The budget forecast reinforces how restraint and reform are paying off as the current biennium is forecast to have a surplus, albeit reduced.  This year would have been a deficit as well had those who wanted higher spending and taxes had gotten their way.  Over the past few years, Senate Republicans have prioritized investing in Minnesotans.  Efforts to cut taxes on the middle class and focus on reforms that give economic power and freedom back to you, knowing that your hard work is what truly drives Minnesota forward.

This session, as we begin crafting a new budget, now is not the time to double down on increasing taxes or unrestrained government spending. Our state spending is already unsustainable, and Minnesota families struggle from the financial fallout of COVID and Governor Walz’s lockdowns. Instead of asking more of you, state government must take a hard look in the mirror and make choices that eliminate wasteful spending while empowering Minnesotans to succeed.

COVID Restrictions Update

As the COVID-19 situation improves by nearly every metric across Minnesota, Governor Walz announced measures that loosen restrictions on important parts of daily life on Wednesday.

At the start of the pandemic, the legislature granted Gov. Walz significant leeway to address COVID so Minnesota could respond quickly to a virus we knew nothing about But now, with the start of vaccinations and more information on how to be safe, Minnesotans can begin to see light at the end of the tunnel and it is time for one person rule to end.

Its hard to acknowledge todays adjustment as a victory since Governor Walzs iron grip on power has hurt countless people. The Governor has decided which businesses can operate and which cant. Rules have been put in place that treat Pipestone the same as St. Paul and not paused once to acknowledge the different circumstances our communities face. With the start of session upon us, its time for Governor Walz to end his emergency powers and restore democracy by working with the legislature so that we can get Minnesota back on track.

Starting January 11:

  • Indoor dining at bars and restaurants can open at 50 percent capacity, with a maximum of 150 people. Parties of no more than six people must remain six feet from other parties; bar seating is open to parties of two; reservations are required; and establishments must close dine-in service by 10 p.m.
  • Gym capacity remains capped at 25 percent but maximum capacity increases to 150 and classes can increase to 25 people, assuming distancing can be observed. Machines and people must maintain 9 feet of distance. Face coverings are required.
  • Outdoor events and entertainment continue at 25 percent capacity, but maximum capacity increases to 250 people. Social distancing is required.
  • Indoor events and entertainment – like bowling alleys, movie theaters, and museums – may open at 25 percent, with no more than 150 people in each area of the venue. Face coverings are required, and they may not offer food service after 10 p.m.
  • Youth and adult organized sports have resumed practice as of January 4 and games resume January 14 with spectators, following the appropriate capacity limits for indoor or outdoor venues. Inter-region tournaments and out of state play are discouraged.
  • Pools opened on January 4 for some activity and may now open, like gyms, at 25 percent capacity.
  • Wedding receptions and other private parties may resume with limits. If food and drink are served at the event, then they are limited to two households or 10 people indoors and 3 households or 15 people outdoors. If there is no food or drink, they are covered by event venue guidelines. Any related ceremony – like a wedding or funeral ceremony – is guided by rules for ceremonies and places of worship.
  • Places of worship remain open at 50% capacity but without an overall maximum capacity.