For more information contact: House GOP Communications 651-296-5522
Chairing the Education Finance Committee this week.
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As we approach the half-way point of the legislative session, I would like to keep you informed about the latest events and notable actions at the Capitol. Here is an update from St. Paul.
HIGHLIGHTS IN THIS UPDATE:
Teacher Safety Legislation
Last week, the House Education Finance Committee heard my legislation that puts teachers back in charge of their classrooms and helps protect staff from physical assault. Following several local news stories about students physically assaulting school staff, I crafted legislation to clarify the authority of educators in the classroom and provide for official reporting requirements to track how common these occurrences are in Minnesota schools.
The professional judgment of a teacher managing his or her classroom needs to be respected by students and school administrators, especially when they are acting to protect their students and themselves from violent or harmful actions. This legislation affirms educators’ important role in managing classroom behavior to maintain a positive learning environment in the classroom. In addition, it will help legislators and the Minnesota Department of Education gather information about the prevalence of student assault cases on staff across the state. Both students and educators deserve a safe, positive environment that fosters learning and growth, and we must ensure that we are addressing violence in our schools.
The bill has been included in a larger education omnibus bill, and I am pleased it is advancing this session with broad support.
Education Omnibus Bill
While the budget proposed by House Republicans this session has a net zero funding increase, we were able to reprioritize some dollars from school districts that have asked to be able to repay about $50 million in loans back to the state early. Not only are we saving these districts money in the long-term, but these dollars have been repurposed for other important priorities as part of our education omnibus legislation. My omnibus bill contains funding and policy provisions to address the pressing needs of our students and schools.
Included in the funding portion of the legislation is grant money schools can access to contract with community mental health providers to increase student support services; funding for professional development and training for staff who works with students with severe special education needs and emotional and behavioral disorders; and tuition incentives to expand the preparation and hiring of teachers to help alleviate teacher shortages and diversify our teaching ranks to more closely reflect our student population. Funding for broadband access expansion in underserved areas, support for early childhood learning and literacy, and money to narrow the revenue disparities between metro and non-metro school districts were also included.
Policy provisions in the education omnibus bill include measures to improve teacher safety, create a working group to study long-term solutions for student discipline, repair our broken teacher licensure system, reduce special education paperwork and expand students’ knowledge of civics as part of their social studies education.
The education omnibus bill passed out of the Education Finance Committee unanimously this week and will now advance to the Ways and Means Committee.
MNvest and the Angel Investor Tax Credit
You may recall last session, Governor Dayton signed my MNvest legislation into law, creating an avenue for equity crowdfunding in Minnesota. It's an innovative way for businesses to raise capital and for average citizens to purchase a stake in local small businesses.
This session, I am carrying legislation that would allow people who invest the maximum $10,000 through MNvest to qualify for the Angel Investment Tax Credit. This is a targeted incentive that would offer an important boost to encourage Minnesotans to invest in Minnesota companies.
It was heard in the Job Growth and Energy Affordability and Taxes Committee this session and has received bipartisan support.
Last week, House Republicans unveiled their budget targets for this session. With state government already fully funded, we proposed a net zero increase in spending, but did reprioritize some money to make better use of taxpayer dollars.
My focus continues to be passage of a tax relief bill that puts money back in the pockets of hardworking taxpayers, and a transportation package that prioritizes and increases our investment in critical infrastructure like roads and bridges this session. Those two things have continually emerged as top priorities that people in Eden Prairie want the legislature to address this session. Both a tax and transportation bill are sitting in conference committee awaiting final negotiations with the Senate.
Tax Day is Monday, April 18th.
According to the Tax Foundation, Minnesota has the fourth highest individual income tax rate in the nation at 9.85 percent. We are also ranked 47th in the nation for our state's business tax climate with only states like California and New York ranking worse.
Our state’s high tax rates may be contributing to a slow-down in our economic growth, as we now lag behind the nation’s growth rate. We heard from several testifiers on this topic who have studied the increased out-migration of taxpayers from Minnesota at a recent Tax Committee hearing.
Be assured I will continue to advocate for tax relief for hardworking taxpayers this session, and work to keep our state spending in check. Minnesotans are overtaxed, and it's clear you deserve a break.
Time is running out! If you haven’t already done so, I hope you will take a moment to complete my 2016 Legislative Survey. This survey gives me another opportunity to gather feedback from constituents about important issues being debated at the Capitol. Your opinions are valuable and guide me in evaluating legislation and its impact on our community.
To access my 2016 survey, just go to this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/RepLoon2016
Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts! Also, don't forget to share my survey with your friends and family in District 48B!
If I can be of any assistance to you with a state government matter, please feel free to contact me. I always welcome your views, questions and suggestions on issues of interest or concern. I can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can call my office at 651-296-7449. I look forward to hearing from you!
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