First of all, thank you again for putting your trust in me to be your voice in St. Paul. Being the third generation Mortensen to live in Shakopee, it truly is an honor to be your representative. Of course, we aren’t all going to agree with one another and that’s OK. We just need to be tolerant and respectful of differing opinions.

As you may be aware, I didn’t exactly enter the Capitol building quietly on Jan. 5. Nor was it my intention to do so. Gov. Tim Walz has been refusing to trust Minnesotans for nearly a year now and unlike the governor and some of my colleagues in the Legislature, I have vowed to always put my trust in the people of Minnesota before empowering bureaucrats with the ability to limit your decisions. I believe decisions are best made as local as possible and the most local level is that at the individual level.

Therefore, within an hour of being sworn in on Tuesday, Jan. 5, I moved a resolution to end the peacetime emergency that is being used to justify Gov. Walz’s unilateral control of the entire state. The effects of Gov. Walz’s unconstitutional and immoral executive orders have rippled across the state resulting in thousands of businesses closing, tens of thousands of people forced out of work and mental health issues skyrocketing. Right here in Scott County, we’ve had months where “suicide in progress” calls are up over 50%. We simply can no longer ignore the fact that our own neighbors are taking their own lives due to the isolation that they’re feeling.

The best balance to strike that combines the mitigating of risks COVID-19 poses and minimizes the infringements on civil and economic liberties is for state agencies to keep us abreast with what they’ve learned about COVID-19, what the best practices are to protect ourselves and others and then permit individuals the ability to determine what risk tolerance they’re comfortable with. Quite frankly that is the only way to move forward. It is the step we must eventually take. As it has nearly been one year of living with COVID-19, I urge the governor and the Democrats in the Legislature to permit and to trust Minnesotans to take this necessary step.

From a legislation perspective I am thrilled to share what I’ve been working on. And of course, the bills I’ve been working on reflect the promises I made the district throughout 2020. First and foremost, I have finished the “School Board Recall” bill that Shakopee has been yearning for. This legislation simply extends the same recall requirements that exist at the county level down to the city and school board level. This is common sense legislation and empowers you with a tool to use if or when our community makes a regrettable decision when electing a local official.

Second, as I discussed in my interview with the Shakopee Chamber of Commerce this summer, I have finished legislation that repeals the “Fiscal Disparities” property tax. This is a punitive tax for Shakopee small business owners that accounts for upward of 30% of the property taxes paid by commercial and industrial property in the metro area. This program is referred to as a “Wealth Redistribution” tax on the Metropolitan Council’s webpage and Shakopee is a net loser of this program meaning the dollars collected in Shakopee are sent off to other communities, mostly St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Finally, I’m introducing legislation the week of Jan. 11 that suspends the pay of the governor and the Legislature when the governor orders private businesses closed. In other words, when/if the governor issues an order that takes away your paycheck, the governor loses their paycheck as well. I feel this legislation perfectly reflects Gov. Walz’s vision of “One Minnesota” and reinforces the message that “we’re all in this together.” It is my hope that, should this bill become law, it will make governors think twice before ordering businesses closed.

There are about another dozen bills I’m working on so stay tuned. If you would like updates more frequently than these monthly updates please subscribe to email updates on my legislative page or “like” my Facebook page.

Erik Mortensen, R-Shakopee, represents District 55A in the Minnesota House of Representatives.