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State Representative JoAnn Ward

231 State Office BuildingState Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
651-296-7807

For more information contact: Matt Roznowski 651-296-8875

Posted: Apr 25 2014 1:30PM
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E-Update

Legislative update: A productive 2014 Session with more progress ahead


Dear neighbors,

State lawmakers are in the final stretch of this year’s highly productive Legislative Session.  

If you’d like to learn about this year’s Session, I encourage you to attend my town hall meeting taking place on Saturday, April 26. The event runs from 10:00am-11:00am at the City of Landfall’s Community Center, located at 4 4th Ave.

With just a few weeks remaining before our May 19 constitutional adjournment deadline, I want to take a moment to reflect on what we’ve accomplished so far and preview the priorities we plan to tackle in the days and weeks ahead.

MIDDLE CLASS TAX CUTS:

Over one million middle class Minnesotans will pay less in taxes as a result of legislation approved by the Legislature and Governor last month, including married couples, working families, Minnesotans with student loans, teachers, homeowners and small businesses.

Read more: http://kstp.com/article/stories/S3400727.shtml?cat=12681

MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE:

The Legislature and Governor Dayton approved legislation to phase in a minimum wage increase over the next several years, with annual pay raises for workers tied to the rate of inflation beginning in 2018.

Details of the bill’s minimum wage increases include:

  • $8.00 per hour in August 2014, $9.00 per hour in August 2015, and $9.50 per hour for large employers (businesses with gross sales over $500,000) in 2016.
     
  • $6.50 per hour in August 2014, $7.25 per hour in August 2015, and $7.75 per hour for smaller employers (businesses with gross sales under $500,000) in 2016.

Over 325,000 Minnesotans will receive a pay raise thanks to this legislation, providing working families with more money to spend on rent, groceries and gas. This is an important step toward making sure people who work hard full time and their families do not have to live in poverty.

Read more: http://www.startribune.com/politics/statelocal/255265041.html

WOMEN’S ECONOMIC SECURITY ACT:

The House and Senate have both passed similar versions of the Women’s Economic Security Act, legislation that will help close the gender pay gap so women can earn equal pay for equal work, provide more protections and flexibility for pregnant mothers in the workplace and create more opportunities for women to enter high-wage, high-demand professions.

Women are increasingly becoming the primary breadwinners of their families, so this legislation will strengthen Minnesota families and continue growing our economy from the middle-out.

A conference committee of lawmakers from both the House and Senate will iron out the differences between each bill before sending a final version to the Governor to be signed into law before the 2014 Session concludes.

Read more: http://www.startribune.com/politics/statelocal/254567521.html

INVESTMENTS IN MINNESOTA:

Thanks to the Legislature’s strong fiscal management and a productive year from our talented workforce and outstanding businesses, Minnesota generated a $1.2 billion surplus.

Lawmakers and Governor Dayton used almost half of that amount to cut taxes for over one million middle class Minnesotans and repeal three business-to-business sales taxes. The House and the Senate recently passed supplemental budget proposals that invest some of the remaining dollars in priorities Minnesotans broadly share. Major highlights from the House version include:

  • Additional funding for every school and new investments in early childhood education.
  • Five percent raise for home and community-based long-term care providers who care for our seniors and people with disabilities.
  • Additional investments to ensure safe and sturdy highways, roads and bridges as well as funding for local governments to fill potholes.
  • More funding for the school lunch program to ensure no child is ever denied a warm meal due to the inability to pay.

A conference committee is working to merge the House and Senate versions of the bill before sending a final version to Governor Dayton.

Read more: http://www.mprnews.org/story/2014/04/03/minn-house-considers-322m-budget-plan

BONDING BILL:

Even-year Legislative Session traditionally focus on capital investment legislation, more commonly known as the ‘bonding bill.’

The House proposal includes $850 million in bonds and $125 million in one-time cash expenditures from Minnesota’s budget surplus to help finance statewide infrastructure projects in higher education, transportation, housing, economic development, clean water and wastewater systems – the kinds of things that lay the foundation for economic growth right now and into the future.

I am advocating for a number of projects that benefit our region, including land acquisition at Fish Creek in Maplewood, development of the Gateway Corridor, a renovation of the Harriet Tubman Center in Maplewood to help reduce and prevent homelessness and funding to complete the construction of the East Metro Public Safety Training Center in Maplewood.

After the House and Senate approve our respective bonding bills, a conference committee will produce a final bill for consideration by each chamber.

Read more: http://www.startribune.com/politics/statelocal/253486001.html

BIPARTISANSHIP:

There has been a tremendous amount of bipartisanship during this year’s Session. For example, House lawmakers unanimously passed a heating assistance bill on Day One. Since that time, I’ve worked across the aisle with colleagues from both parties to pass middle class tax cuts, additional resources for the state's rainy day fund, additional funding for the school lunch program, ‘Unsession’ bills that make our government easier to navigate, online voter registration, and the Women’s Economic Security Act. The bonding bill requires a ‘supermajority’ to pass, so that legislation will have bipartisan support as well.

NEW STUDY AT THE MINNESOTA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH IN OUR EAST METRO COMMUNITY:

The Minnesota Department of Health needs your help! Health officials are recruiting participants for a project that will measure levels of Perfluorochemicals (PFCs) in East Metro residents. One thousand randomly selected Oakdale homes were sent a household survey to identify eligible residents. If your home received this survey, please consider returning it to support the project. The East Metro PFC3 Biomonitoring Project will check that efforts to reduce PFC exposures in our community are working. More information is available at the MDH website: http://tinyurl.com/pfcemetro. If you received the survey but have misplaced it, please contact Christina Rosebush at 651-201-5908.

STAY IN TOUCH:

Please contact me with any questions, ideas or comments about the 2014 Legislative Session. Feel free to contact me by phone at (651) 296-7807 or by email at rep.joann.ward@house.mn with any questions as well. I always appreciate hearing from you.

Sincerely,
 

JoAnn Ward
State Representative, District 53A

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