Rep: Jeremy Munson: Statement on HF 4531, the COVID 19 Economic Stimulus bill

Although there were some sensible provisions in the bill like relief for people unable to get driver’s licenses or commercial licenses to be able to work, there were so many things wrong with this bill I could not in good conscience, vote for it. 

The primary goal of leadership seemed to be to break all land speed records to pass it off the floor.  They ran roughshod over our open meeting laws, committee processes, and more. There was zero transparency. Even as a member of the House, I only received a copy of the bill after the session started.  Journalists and citizens alike were kept out of the process.  And although it was only 33 pages long, we were again presented with an omnibus bill with many different subjects, cut and pasted into a single bill.

I don’t disagree that some sensible precautions should be taken in a pandemic, but the situation was used as a license to disregard any need for public input completely.  Now that we see the final product in the bill, we are left to wonder whose priorities these actually are. Which lobbyists were able to get a foot in the door with either members or the administration to make sure that their concerns made it into the bill? 

Secondly, I disagree with the approach the bill takes.  It hands out taxpayer money to government agencies and corporate childcare providers.  Businesses will be given loans, but with no or much-reduced revenue coming in, those loans will be a burden to them for years.  The government will grow, and more Minnesotans will be more dependent on it. 

Finally, we don’t know how long this crisis will last. We need people to start thinking about how they will get through the crisis, and we need the government to allow them the flexibility to do that. I wrote the Give it Back Act bill before the spread of COVID-19, but I can’t think of a better time to give taxpayers their money back.  Instead, we will make people jump through more hoops to apply for their own money while we prevent them from earning it themselves.  This bill does permanent damage to the economy, productivity, and small businesses.  I won’t vote for a bill that does that.