Dahms calls for videoconferencing to promote legislator participation

Staff photo by Fritz Busch District 16 state Sen. Gary Dahms, R-Redwood Falls, had the stage to himself at a League of Women Voters candidate forum Wednesday in the New Ulm City Council Chambers.

NEW ULM — District 16 state Sen. Gary Dahms, R-Redwood Falls, called for more transparency in the legislative process at the League of Women Voters New Ulm candidate forum in the City Hall Council Chambers Wednesday.

Dahms is being opposed in the Aug. 9 primary by Republican challenger Larvita McFarquhar of Lynd, but his challenger was absent from the forum.

In addition to transparency, Dahms said he wants more public hearing outreach next session.

“Hearings are always posted,” he said. “We used Zoom testimony during COVID, and I’m for expanding Zoom testimony. I ran all my (legislative) bills through on an individual basis. It takes longer, but you get better participation.”

Dahms said he would like to see Senate and House hearings and votes on environmental bills, including voting against Gov. Tim Walz’s “California cars mandate” proposal to ramp up electric car sales and ban new gas-powered cars in 2035.

“Right now, we’re at the mercy of California standards. I don’t like passing off authority to other states,” Dahms said. “Minnesota, California and New York have tough environmental standards. We don’t have the infrastructure to turn it over that fast.”

Dahms has other environmental ideas, too.

“There is ‘clean coal’ and nuclear production available,” he added. “We’ve done well with wind and solar production, but its not reliable for base load. We need more battery storage capacity to really make it go.”

Dahms said state surplus money should be used to reduce taxes, clean the environment, aid agriculture and for future savings.

“I don’t think we need to up and spend the surplus,” he said.

Other funding needs on his mind include more shelters to protect domestic violence victims and their families and finding ways to get people with mental health issues into the (treatment) system.

Dahms said he supports continued state aid funding for cities and counties.

“It’s very important funding for things like keeping the roads up and turning street lights on,” he added.

Dahms said he feels state taxation of Social Security income will go away next session.

“Seventy-two percent of Minnesotans want less taxes,” Dahms said. “I think the sales tax will stay where its at.”

Dahms doesn’t think voter ID legislation is likely to pass with the current political situation, but the results of the November general election could change that.

Regarding a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling on using public funds for private religious schools, Dahms said his concern would be mandates coming to private schools that take public funds.

Absentee voting and mail ballot voting is now available. For more information, visit www.brown.mn.us and click on Elections.

(Fritz Busch can be emailed at fbusch@nujournal.com.)


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