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Kurt Daudt elected House Republican leader

The state representative already has a proposed gas tax in his sights.

State Rep. Kirk Daudt may be leaving his role as Speaker of the Minnesota House soon, but he'll remain the top Republican there for the foreseeable future.

That's because his party picked him to become House Minority Leader during a caucus on Friday morning, according to a news release.

This comes after Democrats won control of the chamber last Tuesday, and chose Rep. Melissa Hortman as the next Speaker of the House. 

Daudt, who lives in Crown, is already coming out swinging as he steps into his new role, taking particular aim at a Democrat-proposed gas tax increase.

Democrats say it's needed to fund road improvements in the state, but Republicans say it will only put strain on average Minnesotans. 

In the release, Daud points out that, in the past four years with Republicans in the majority, he and other legislative leaders "delivered numerous accomplishments" – including "historic investments in roads and bridges without a gas tax increase."

About the proposed gas tax 

After being elected Minnesota governor, U.S. Rep. Tim Walz announced that state lawmakers should expect to see a proposed increase in the gas tax as part of his first budget proposal.

Currently, Minnesotans pay a $0.286 tax on every gallon of gas sold in the state. That puts us somewhere in the middle of national state fuel tax rankings, according to the Tax Foundation.

But as Walz has stated on his campaign website, it's not enough to maintain the state's highways, roads and bridges.

However, Daudt says such a tax will only "hurt the pocketbooks of millions of low and middle-income Minnesotans," even though "most Democrats ran only on raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations."

While Walz may have an easier time seeing his proposal pass in the soon-to-be-Democratic House, the state Senate will still be in Republican hands next year, and Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R–Nisswa) has made clear he doesn't agree with a gas tax increase.

"If you look at the last two years, we had massive increases in spending towards roads and bridges," Gazelka is quoted as saying in a Pioneer Press article. "We can do that without a gas tax."

The new legislative term begins next year, and Daudt will step into his new role when it kicks off in January.

"House Republicans will work each day to stand up for the priorities of hardworking Minnesotans," he promised in Friday's news release, "and oppose Democrat efforts to take billions of dollars in taxes out of the pockets of Minnesota families despite our likely budget surplus."

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