For more information contact: House GOP Communications 651-296-5522
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The House adjourned sine die Sunday evening just before midnight, officially concluding the 2016 legislative session. It was a frenetic, action-packed 11 week session with some important pieces of legislation signed into law, and a few major items outstanding. The Tax Bill and the Omnibus Supplemental Appropriations Bill are awaiting the governor’s signature, and action on a bonding/transportation bill depends upon his decision to call a special session. For more details on these items, please read below in my latest update from the Capitol.
HIGHLIGHTS IN THIS UPDATE:
Transportation and Bonding – What Happened?
In the last minutes of the legislative session, the Senate failed to pass the bonding bill and subsequently prevented funding from going to important projects across the state. The legislation had more than $700 million in funding for roads and bridges, as well as money for key infrastructure projects, such as buildings and facilities maintenance at the UMN and MnSCU campuses. The bill had passed with strong bipartisan support in the House 91-39, and I am disappointed it was not able to pass the Senate and reach the governor's desk.
I was a strong advocate for making substantial transportation investments this year, and passing a comprehensive transportation package that would provide a 10-year plan for continued improvement in our transportation infrastructure. While the bonding bill did make one of the largest one-year investments ever for Minnesota roads and bridges, it was still not the long-term plan we had sought.
Additionally, I am disappointed that critical decisions by House and Senate leaders on a bonding bill were left to the final hours of session, and no transportation package was ever passed by the conference committee and presented to the House and Senate for a vote. Trying to pass complex bills in the final minutes before sine die with little chance for legislators to know what is in the bills is not a good process, and not in the best interests of the citizens of Minnesota. The highly controversial amendment Senator Latz and a few of his colleagues chose to offer to the bonding bill that had passed the House was a tax increase on the residents of Hennepin County, via the Hennepin County Rail Authority, in order to fund the Southwest Light Rail. It was a very divisive measure that served to take down the entire bonding bill, and may force us into special session. These kind of tactics do not reflect positively on the type of behavior and commitment to acting for the common good that I think most Minnesotans expect from their legislators.
Please know I will continue to advocate for Eden Prairie families and taxpayers, looking for innovative and common sense solutions that serve the needs of our community.
Tax Relief for Minnesotans
I am pleased to report that the Senate and House were able to come to an agreement and pass a significant tax relief bill that includes over $800 million in tax relief over the next three years, with more than half a billion in permanent and ongoing tax relief.
Provisions in the agreed upon tax bill include a first-in-the-nation student loan tax credit, an expansion of the child care tax credit, tax deductions and credits for families contributing to 529 Savings Plans, an expansion of tax credits for veterans and property tax relief for Eden Prairie businesses.
Additionally, the supplemental spending bill that passed both legislative bodies also included some key tax relief initiatives. If signed into law, more than 18,000 Minnesota veterans will no longer have their military retirement pay subject to state income tax. In order to grow good-paying jobs and encourage investment in Minnesota companies, there is an additional $10 million for the Angel Investor Tax Credit. My bill to add MNvest (a new program I authored last session to allow small businesses to seek capital investors through internet portals, with investors receiving an equity stake in the company) to the list of investors eligible for the Angel Investment Tax Credit is also part of the Supplemental Omnibus Bill.
Tax relief was a key goal of this year's session, and I am pleased we were able to come to a bipartisan agreement that will lessen the tax burden for many Eden Prairie taxpayers.
There was much work done by the House and the Senate to move Minnesota towards compliance with the federal REAL ID requirement, but in the end, it was held up in conference committee solely over the controversial issue of providing drivers' licenses for illegal immigrants.
The decision was made to offer Minnesotans a choice under what is known as a dual track system. Those wanting REAL ID compliant drivers’ licenses could obtain them by providing more information to prove citizenship and resident status as part of the process. Minnesotans with privacy concerns over that requirement, or who do not need a driver’s license that allows them to board a commercial airline flight, or enter a federal building or military facility, can opt for the type of driver’s license we currently offer. I am dismayed that the Senate conferees were trying to interject the controversial issue of drivers' licenses for undocumented immigrants into the REAL ID process, especially when it is an initiative that does not have enough support to pass in the legislature in a straight up or down vote.
I have heard from many constituents in Eden Prairie who want to be able to use their driver's license to board an airplane, visit a loved one on a military base or enter a federal building. This is an important issue and one that will cause many headaches for Minnesotans if we don't get it resolved soon.
Please know I will do everything I can to get REAL ID taken care of, and my office is available to you should you need assistance or have questions.
I will have more specifics on legislation passed and sent to the Governor in the last few days of session in my next update. In the meantime, if you have a specific question or if I can be of any assistance to you with a state government matter, please feel free to contact me. I also 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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