Kupec talks tax cuts and recreational cannabis as freshman senator prepares for first session – Detroit Lakes Tribune
DETROIT LAKES — With a surprise win for the Greater Minnesota DFL in Senate District 4, Rob Kupec has been busy since Election Day, attending virtual caucus meetings, voting for his party’s leadership and preparing to join the Minnesota’s main legislative body.
In an interview with the Detroit Lakes Tribune, Kupec said his head was still spinning for a few days after the Nov. 8 election.
Kupec narrowly defeated GOP candidate Dan Bohmer, a retired Army colonel and nuclear pharmacist, 52.5% to 46.8% with a difference of just 1,727 out of 30,345 votes cast.
On election night, Kupec said he was feeling cautiously optimistic.
“I felt like we had a really good close out of our campaign, we hit a lot of doors at the end, and the rural numbers came first and I was like, ‘wow, we’re holding our own in the rural areas,’ even a few of the townships went my way,” he said. Kupec won both Elkton Township and Goose Prairie Township in Clay County, 67-64 votes and 48 to 43 votes, respectively.
Kupec lost all of the constituencies in Becker County, however, he ended up beating Bohmer by more than two to one in a handful of Moorhead’s thirteen electoral districts. It also maintained tighter loss margins in greater Clay County.
After election night, Kupec said all 14 incoming DFL caucus members in the state senate held a virtual meeting Nov. 9 and voted for their party leadership Nov. 10. Senator Kari Dziedzic, DFL-Minneapolis, was elected as the new Minnesota Senate Majority Leader. Sen. Mark Johnson, GOP-East Grand Forks, will become the new Republican Minority Leader following a GOP caucus leadership vote.
Now, with a one-vote DFL majority in the Minnesota Senate and also control of the state house and governorship, many DFL priorities could be given the green light, including: stronger abortion protections, public school funding and recreational cannabis.
“What I’ve always said is (recreational cannabis) was never one of my biggest issues, but I’m not against it,” Kupec said. “I think it’s going to happen and I just want to make sure we do it right.”
Kupec said some states have a fairly established track record with recreational cannabis, and it should be easy to learn from their successes and pitfalls on how best to establish an entirely new industry for the state.
In a 2021 interview, Kupec’s predecessor, Sen. Kent Eken, DFL-Audubon, said he opposed the recreational marijuana bill that passed the Minnesota House during their session. , who condemned the bill during the Republican majority vote in the state Senate last year. . The bill was never introduced for consideration by the GOP-controlled Senate.
Unless a special session is called by Gov. Tim Walz during the lame duck period, the new legislature will have to decide what to do with the state’s $9.25 billion budget surplus. Kupec said many of his constituents have said tax relief should be a priority, which he also supports.
“Especially the elimination of this state tax on Social Security, I would definitely be in favor of that,” he said.
Since Senate District 4 is a largely rural area, Kupec said he would like to be appointed to the Senate agriculture committee.
“I made it known (at the caucus meeting),” he said.