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Senate Report: Minnesota children were used as pawns for decisions

Senate Report by Gene Dornink

I have heard from many of you expressing concern over the mask mandate for youth sports. Recently, we have received new guidance allowing outdoor sports to be played without masks. This is a great step in the right direction for our kids. After the difficult year they have had, it is nice to know that normalcy is on the horizon.

Gene Dornink

In the midst of this positive news about youth sports, a troubling situation has been discovered involving youth sports, the governor’s office, and the Minnesota Department of Health. Internal e-mails between employees of the Department of Health indicate a political strategy by Gov. Walz to minimize the push back about cancelling youth sports. They planned to falsely indicate deaths in longterm care facilities were somehow related to youth sports. Furthermore, the e-mails indicate that the governor feared the loss of six DFL seats in the Minnesota House of Representatives was a referendum on COVID guidance canceling youth sports. The group “Let Them Play Minnesota,” which advocates for students who have missed out their extracurricular activities this year, joined the Senate Education Committee to hold an informal meeting with Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcom to get to the bottom of this issue.

I was incredibly disappointed to discover that Minnesota children were being used as political pawns in response to the loss of DFL seats. State leaders need to use science when making decisions that impact the lives of so many. After seeing Gov. Walz and Commissioner Malcolm use talking points and political strategy to manipulate data for political benefit, I do not see how Minnesotans can have faith in their leadership. It is important for the public to trust elected officials to have their best interest in mind, and this behavior completely undermines that trust.

At the Capitol, we have been acting on our constitutional duties and passing budget bills to continue good governance throughout our great state. Senate Republicans are focused on creating new programs to help Minnesotans, businesses and the economy to recover. A robust state budget is imperative to the operations within our state, and I am pleased to see the focus is on recovery and relief, as opposed to tax hikes and spending like the DFL-controlled House is recommending.

After passing the Senate budget bills, we will go to Conference Committee with the House to find common ground within each budget. This is a very important process that encourages bipartisanship, and I am very excited to see how it works this year. I am honored to be serving on Conference Committees for both Agriculture and K-12 Education. These are two very important sectors of Minnesota life, and I remain passionate about the issues. I am committed to doing my best to find compromise with the House while remaining true to the work we have done in the Senate.

If there is any legislative issue you would like to learn more about or share your opinion, I encourage you to reach out to my office at Sen.Gene.Dornink@Senate.MN or 651-296-5240.

Gene Dornink, R-Hayfield, is the District 27 senator.