House bill would grant rights to plants and trees

A really bad bill that gives rights to plants and trees

Rep. Kaohly Her (DFL-St. Paul) introduced a bill that gives constitutional rights to plants and animals. You read that right. HF 1332 provides “financial and technical assistance to establish rights of personhood for ecosystems that sustain life, including the right to live and thrive.” The bill also seeks to “facilitate enhancement of the legal rights of nature and the ecosystems that sustain life.”

Twenty of Her’s DFL colleagues co-authored the bill and the House Workforce and Business Development Finance and Policy Committee even gave it a hearing last week. Which gave us this surreal exchange between Rep. Tony Jurgens (R-Hastings) and Rep. Her:

@mnlegdfldeepdive #HairFoodChallenge #PepsiApplePieChallenge Like if you support TREE RIGHTS!! Honestly, it’s just a good environmental justice bill, some people will just bring up abortion whenever they can #mnleg ♬ Spongebob Tomfoolery – Dante9k Remix – David Snell

“If this were to become law, to me, I read that as saying a tree would have more legal rights than that of an unborn baby. And I find that very problematic to put that into statute.”

Rep. Tony Jurgens

“I want to remind us that we, as a country, have deceided that companies are people. I don’t see how this is any different than saying that the most precious resources, our water, our soil, should also have the right to live and sustain so that we can live and sustain. Corporations provide jobs, but if corporations didn’t exist, I mean, we would have negative consequences to that, but our lives wouldn’t depend on it. If we don’t have water and air and soil that is clean, we don’t exist.”
We assume Rep. Her’s “companies are people” remark refers to recent Supreme Court decisions extending free speech protections to corporations such as the Citizens United case. It’s absurd to go from the Supreme Court allowing corporations campaign finance free speech rights to “we as a country decided companies are people.” Yet here we have a DFL member of the Minnesota Legislature actually arguing in committee that since companies are people, plants, soil and water can be people too. Because plants are more important than companies.

Rep. Koahly Her

Crazy? Or crazy like a fox? Pretty soon House Democrats will be registering plants and trees to vote in the next election.

A good bill that brings accountability to non-profits
With state government increasingly reliant on nonprofits for delivering basic services, Republicans in the legislature have introduced a timely bill to impose some much-needed accountability. SF 4359 was introduced last week by state Sen. Michelle Benson (R-Ham Lake), who is also a candidate for governor this year.

The bill would require a nonprofit to exist for two years before participating in state programs involving public safety, childcare, or food distribution. It would cap salaries of nonprofit leaders and would impose third-party auditing requirements. Nonprofits with board members who are state employees or elected officials would not be allowed to access state contracts. The bill would also require criminal background checks of participating nonprofit employees.

The House companion bill (HF 4682) was introduced by state Rep. Tony Albright (R-Prior Lake). Whether it’s the effectiveness of “violence disrupters” in reducing metro crime or FBI allegations of free-food fraud committed on an industrial scale, questions have been raised about using nonprofits for government work

The bill was filed too late in this year’s session to be passed as a stand-alone measure, but look for it to be included, in some form, in the final work product negotiated next month.

Senate committee passes strong crime bill
Senate Republicans held a long hearing on their public safety package this week. There are many provisions in the bill including two proposals from American Experiment’s 2022 legislative agenda.

  • SF 3224 is a bill sponsored by Sen. Scott Newman (R-Hutchinson) that creates a strong Three Strikes law for violent offenders. It changes a “may” to a “must” for judges to apply the maximum sentence if a violent criminal already has two similar offenses.
  • SF 2673 is a bill sponsored by Sen. Warren Limmer (R-Maple Grove) that removes the ability of prosecutors and judges to waive mandatory minimum sentences for those who commit violent crimes with firearms. This bill is a real attempt to close the revolving door of justice in Minnesota.

These two bills would actually make people in Minnesota safer as soon as they become law, in stark contrast to Democratic proposals to send more money to non-profit “violence preventers.”

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