Senate Report: Minnesota’s 2023 legislative session comes to a close

Published 8:45 pm Friday, May 26, 2023

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Senate Report by Gene Dornink

Friends and neighbors,

Gene Dornink

When the 2023 legislative session began, I highlighted how an integral part of this session would be determining what to do with our state’s historic $19 billion surplus.

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With out-of-control inflation and rising energy costs affecting Minnesota workers and families, I indicated that we must get a meaningful portion back to taxpayers. However, this priority was not shared by members across the aisle.

From a higher gas tax to many mandates, this session closed with more than $9 billion in tax increases on hardworking Minnesotans. In the end, Democrats who campaigned on tax relief, including the full elimination of the tax on Social Security income, broke their promises to Minnesota. The meager tax relief that only some Minnesotans will receive is nothing compared to the tax increases that will hit every single Minnesotan.

Throughout this session, cities, counties and schools from across our state shared their strong concern with the costly mandates being pushed in St. Paul. I’ve heard from local schools that the increase to the education formula will not cover all of the countless new mandates. Instead of listening to local school boards, Democrats think they know better how to run our schools. We should be giving our schools more flexibility with their dollars so that they can provide for the individual needs of their students.

Additionally, one of the big issues I regularly hear about is the threat of surging crime in communities across our state. The partisan policies passed this session took no meaningful steps to make our communities safer. In fact, the public safety budget makes thousands of convicted felons eligible for early release and fails to close gaps in the law necessary for holding criminals accountable. Democrats also chose to fund nonprofit advocacy organizations over our law enforcement officers. At the end of the day, the soft-on-crime approach will not address our state’s public safety crisis.

Though much of this session was bad for our state, I would still like to highlight some of the good.

Back in March, I shared that Senate Republicans held off on the bonding bill because we knew we could do better for the communities we represent. And recently, we were presented with an opportunity to achieve just that when Senate Republicans secured an additional $300 million for nursing homes.

During the final weekend of session, legislative leaders announced an agreement to pass a bonding bill and deliver much-needed funding to the state’s struggling nursing homes. The agreement includes direct grants, facility rate increases, and a workforce incentive fund that adds up to about $1.1 million for every nursing home in the state.

Especially in rural Minnesota, Minnesota’s nursing homes are on the brink of collapse, and they continue to face stress as staffing shortages have ravaged the industry.

The additional funding will help ensure our nursing homes stay open and that our seniors continue to receive the high-quality care they deserve. Were it not for our resolve, Minnesota could have lost up to 40 nursing homes in the coming year.

I am glad to share that we got $14.5 million for the city of Austin’s wastewater treatment plant. The current facility is out-of-date and no longer sufficient for Austin’s growing population. I have been working closely with the city and state on securing this much-needed funding, and this will be integral to getting this project to the finish line.

The city of Albert Lea will also receive $2 million in state funding for phase one of the city’s new wastewater treatment plant. Additionally, Shell Rock River Watershed will receive $9 million for sediment removal and cleanup of Fountain Lake.

It is the greatest honor to serve as your voice in the Minnesota Legislature.

Honoring our fallen service members

On Memorial Day, we honor the brave service members who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms. Our nation is eternally grateful to our fallen heroes. We are truly the home of the free, because of the brave.

Contact me

As always, please do not hesitate to contact me. Feel free to email me at or give me a call at 651-296-5240.

Gene Dornink, R-Brownsdale, is the District 23 senator.