A group of bills were introduced in the Minnesota legislature this session that would appropriate money to specific ethnic groups, paid for by the rest of state taxpayers. These bills received overwhelming DFL support, but several Republicans have signed on and some, were even chief authored by Republicans.
HF 543 – Somali arts and cultural heritage program funding provided, and money appropriated. This bill was originally coauthored by Reps Dave Baker (R – Willmer) and Dean Urdahl (R – Grove City). It’s Senate companion bill, SF 658, was originally authored by Sen David Senjem (R – Rochester) and coauthored by Sen Andrew Lang (R – Olivia). Baker and Urdahl have since removed their names in the House and Senjem and Lang dropped off in the Senate.
HF 463 – African Economic Development Solutions (AEDS) grant funding provided, and money appropriated. This bill is coauthored by Rep Rod Hamilton (R – Mountain Lake). It’s companion bill, SF 216, is coauthored by Jason Rarick (R – Pine City).
SF 1027 – East African community economic development pilot program establishment and appropriation. This bill is authored by Sen Jerry Relph (R – St Cloud).
All added up, a total of $8 Million of taxpayer money would be appropriated in the upcoming biennium if these three bills were passed.
The bills are similar in nature to a bill authored by Senators Jim Abeler (R – Anoka) and Jerry Ralph last year which would have established a Somali Community Development Program for $18 Million.
Democrat legislators are the main muscle behind these bills. They often use identity politics in order to cater to blocks of potential voters. However, its a mystery why so many Republicans have signed on to bills that unequally send money to specific ethnic groups at the taxpayers’ expense. These types of bills are usually rejected by conservatives.