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Campaign Mail Check: Exaggerated Abortion, Gas Tax Claims Common in Minnesota Legislative Races | MinnPost

Typical negative campaign mail details “wrong” votes cast by an incumbent. That is, a party searches the voting records for roll calls on issues that can be used to bring down an incumbent.

But a pair of the hundreds of mailings dropped in mailboxes this year use a different tactic: projecting what a candidate might do if elected. In one case, the guess is based on invoices a cardholder has sponsored in the past. Another is based on bills that someone from the same party as the candidate has sponsored in the past.

And in an allegation, sending gives a legislator a power they don’t have. Here’s a look at two lit hits for DFL state House candidate Ethan Cha of Woodbury and incumbent GOP Rep. Greg Boe of Chanhassen.

State Republican Party and House Republican Campaign Committee Against Cha

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The posting is titled “Ethan Cha will support higher gas taxes to pay for more wasteful expenses” and features a photo of a smiling Cha taped to someone’s body pointing, apparently at a gas pump with prices over 4 gallons.

“I DID IT!” Cha appears to say in an image similar to stickers that have been placed on pumps with a pointing Joe Biden. On the back, the same image points to a headline that reads “Ethan Cha to Support Higher Gas Taxes.”

The back of the mail sent by the Republican Party of Minnesota.

So what is the attribution? Has Cha declared his support for gasoline taxes? Has he sponsored a bill or voted to raise gas taxes? The dispatch does not go there, instead relying on the method of guilt by political association.

“Ethan Cha is endorsed by the Liberal DFL because he will be a strong vote to take more money from hard-working Minnesotans,” the copy read. “He is a member of the same party that voted to raise the gas tax and refused to stop the DFL’s automatic gas tax increases even though the price per gallon exceeded $5.00.”

There’s some truth to that statement — and some major league extension of that truth. In 2019, Governor Tim Walz proposed raising gasoline taxes to increase spending on roads and bridges and other increases to pay for transit projects in the metro area. The streak of four five-cent-per-gallon gasoline tax increases was ultimately approved by the DFL-controlled State House, but was blocked by the GOP-controlled State Senate.

According to US Energy Information Administrationthe price of a gallon of gasoline in Minnesota during this vote was $2.74.

Because the tax was never approved, there was no automatic increase for the legislature to stop when prices hit $5 a gallon. The only moves last session were made by some DFLs, including those who voted for the 2019 gas tax hike, stop collecting the state gasoline tax as a form of tax exemption. This decision was opposed by other DFLers, although it was approved by Walz. It was never voted on.

Minnesota DFL Party vs. Greg Boe

The front of the sender show a woman wearing green medical scrubs and handcuffs. Above the photo is the caption ‘Greg Boe Legislation Would Turn Doctors…Into Criminals’. On the reverse, above the statement “Greg Boe is too extreme to trust Minnesota’s future,” are three claims about a bill he co-sponsored in 2021: that the bill would criminalize the abortion in Minnesota, that it would ban abortion without exception for rape or incest, that it “even contained possible criminal penalties for doctors”.

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A large number of sponsored mailings by the DFL and associated groups, this election focuses on abortion. In some cases, as with Boe, it points to sponsored bills. In others, often with non-incumbents, he cites responses to questionnaires from anti-abortion groups.

Boe was one of 11 sponsors of Home file 262. The related Senate bill, Senate File 223, had a sponsor. Both were titled “Abortions prohibited when a fetal heartbeat is detected with certain exceptions and penalties provided. It was introduced, referred to the House Health Policy and Finance Committee and was not heard.

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The bill goes a page and uses definitions found in Texas law that prohibits abortions upon detection of fetal heartbeats. The bill stated that “except in a medical emergency,” a physician must perform a test to determine if a fetal heartbeat is detectable via abdominal ultrasound “in accordance with standard medical practice.” If such a heartbeat is detected, no abortion should be performed. The sentence would be a felony punishable by up to one year in prison or a fine of up to $3,000.

The bill defines the fetal heart rate as “the regular, repetitive contraction of the fetal heart within the gestational sac.” He defines “the unborn child” as “a member of the species Homo sapiens from fertilization until birth”.

Proponents of these laws claim that heartbeats can be detected at six weeks gestation. But a review of science by NPR says that many pediatricians dispute this claim, saying that until the heart valves develop between 18 and 20 weeks, no heart rhythm is present. Yet the sponsors’ schedule definitions show the bill’s intent is to ban most abortions because many women don’t yet know they’re pregnant until six weeks.

The only claim that is debatable is that because the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe vs. Wade, a Minnesota state legislator “may ban abortion.” Under current state Supreme Court rulings, there is a fundamental right to abortion in the state constitution. And a recent district court decision that was not successfully appealed found that almost all restrictions such as gestation periods are not allowed.

Boe could vote for a bill banning abortion, and if Republicans lead the House and Senate next year and take the governorship, it could become law. But under the current tribunal, it would be ruled unconstitutional. Boe could vote to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot to change the state constitution, but that would require voter approval.

While it may seem like a technicality, no Minnesota legislature can ban abortion without a change in court composition or the approval of voters — the same voters who have told pollsters by solid majorities that they don’t. did not want such a ban.

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