Viewpoint: Minnesota Democrats throw values and norms out the window

As minority leader of the Senate Republican Caucus, I take seriously the thorough vetting public policy requires. I value the input from constituents, stakeholders and my colleagues across the aisle.

Sen. Mark Johnson, East Grand Forks.jpg

The pace of the 2023 sessions of the Minnesota Legislature has been unlike any other in my six years at the Capitol. As minority leader of the Senate Republican Caucus, I take seriously the thorough vetting public policy requires. I value the input from constituents, stakeholders and my colleagues across the aisle. Unfortunately, Senate Democrats have thrown those values and norms out the window this session in favor of hardline partisan politicking.

Democrats are rushing through major policies that weigh heavily on Minnesotans in a blatant abuse of their razor-thin, single-party control. Their top priority allows abortion until birth and removes parental consent from major health care decisions for their children. All this with few hearings and not a single Republican amendment accepted; amendments with broad consensus like limiting abortion in the third trimester or requiring a parent’s permission before a child undergoes sterilization. This extreme bill is shocking to most Minnesotans and leaves me wondering just how far Democrats will overreach this session.

Now, less than a week after the extreme abortion bill, we are debating yet another of the Democrat’s extreme energy bills. This bill will raise costs, reduce reliability, and could put lives at risk. It is a blackout bill more than an energy bill. Estimates show families will pay $1,650 more per year as we eliminate affordable, reliable energy, and force utilities to adopt riskier, not-yet-ready technologies that can’t serve the energy needs of our state. Having clean, renewable energy is a goal we all share, and we proposed our own A+ Energy Plan to safely transition to clean, renewable energies in a way Minnesotans can afford. It was voted down on party lines.

Coming up are more extreme bills to allow felons still serving their sentence to vote in our elections. Democrats want to allow non-citizens here illegally to acquire a driver’s license identical to a legal citizen’s license used to register to vote or enroll in state benefits. We’re hearing local businesses raise concerns about the tax increases from their paid leave bill to fund 400 new state employees and a new government bureaucracy. Most of these bills are quickly working their way to the Senate floor without any input from Republicans accepted.

Senate Republicans are here to move this state forward. We are committed to removing the tax on your social security benefits, cutting the first tier of income tax, and giving your money back. We are working hard to protect babies who survive an abortion and need life-saving care. We have a great solution to paid leave, which would expand access to paid leave without a giant new bureaucracy and without eliminating plans people have and like. We believe clean energy technology shouldn’t cost you more and reduce your standard of living. These are the ideas we know Minnesotans support, but sadly, Democrats are simply not interested in working together with us on many of these issues.


I wish I had a more optimistic report from the Capitol. However, Democrats have taken bills from woke interest groups more interested in unregulated abortion access, expensive and unreliable energy, felons and non-citizens voting in our elections, increasing access to marijuana, and growing state government by 25% rather than fighting for the needs of their constituents. I will continue to work to find compromise that serve my constituents and all Minnesotans. However, without one single Democrat willing to break party lines, it looks like a bleak winter in Minnesota.

Unfortunately, that’s how I predict this session will go: straight party-line votes on the woke Democrat priorities and with no room for compromise with Republicans. In a very closely divided Senate, this is a disservice to this state and to the many people who are looking for policy and ideas that move this state forward. It’s not pretty, but that’s the truth coming from St. Paul.

Mark Johnson, a Republican from East Grand Forks, represents northwest Minnesota in the state Senate.

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