For more information contact: House GOP Communications 651-296-5522
Thank you to all who attended your local precinct caucus meeting this week. The rooms were packed and people seemed to be having a great time talking with their neighbors. I am glad that so many of you had the desire to get involved at the local level and take part in changing the way we run government.
Last week we kicked off the reform 2.0 effort by focusing on lawsuit abuse prevention. We passed four bills (Senate Files 149, 373, 429 and 530) that aim to improve fairness in litigation, leading to speedier resolutions, all the while decreasing costs and increasing financial certainty for businesses. These bills were supported by Minnesotans for Lawsuit Reform, which is comprised of 45 regional Chambers of Commerce and Trade Associations that together represent more than 58,000 employers in Minnesota.
The four bills also passed through the Senate and were presented to Governor Dayton on Wednesday, February 8th. Unfortunately, Governor Dayton vetoed these bills this morning.
Commercial Property Tax Phase-out
One of our reform initiatives for this year is a bill I am co-authoring that would begin a multi-year tear down of the 11-year-old statewide business and seasonal-recreational property tax (HF1914). This tax is outdated and only a dozen other states employ such a tax. This bill has bi-partisan support and will stimulate business growth and make Minnesota more competitive with surrounding states.
Governor Dayton has proposed an alternative one-time tax credit -- $3,000 per new hire this year, $1,500 in the first half of 2013 -- for new hires from the ranks of the unemployed, veterans and new college graduates. While the Governorís plan is temporary and accomplishes very little, the Republican plan offers many more businesses a promise of lasting relief from this regressive tax.
Child Care Unions
Yesterday another bill that I am a co-author on (HF1766) passed through the House. This bill will prevent any union dues or fair share fees from being deducted from child care subsidies from the federal, state or local governments. Last year, Governor Dayton signed an executive order calling for a unionization election of all daycare providers who receive a public subsidy. Although the vote was slated to occur in December of 2011, a judge temporarily suspended the vote. It is thought the vote could happen in 2012. If it does, passing this bill will help put restrictions in place so state money cannot be sent directly to unions.
Firearm Silencer Bill
I am the chief author on a bill (HF1984) that was passed through the House Public Safety and Crime Prevention Policy and Finance Committee yesterday. This bill would authorize a federally licensed firearms manufacturer to possess and use silencers for the exclusive purpose of testing firearms manufactured for sale to police and military agencies, but not to individual police and military members.
This is a practice that is currently allowed in Wisconsin and this bill would ensure that money from the sales of firearm silencers does not leave the state.
The constitutional amendment that would require voters to present a form of photographic identification to be eligible to vote (HF1597) is expected to be heard on the House floor later this session. I will provide updates on this bill as they occur.
Dangerous Sex Offender
I would like to close by asking you to please call Governor Dayton and ask that his administration reverse its decision to release convicted sex offender Clarence Opheim. This man is responsible for roughly 100 separate sex offenses against 30 different victims. One of the victims was as young as 8 years old.
Press accounts say that Dayton's appointee, Commissioner of Human Services Lucinda Jesson, failed to object to the release of Opheim. This comes despite the fact that less than one year ago, the state special review board determined that Opheim is "at high risk to commit a future serious sexual offense."
The House Health and Human Services Reform Committee will hold a hearing on this issue on Wednesday, February 15 to discuss how Opheumís fitness for release could have changed so drastically in just one year.
Releasing a dangerous child sex predator concerns me greatly. We don't want any more victims. Please call Governor Dayton today and ask that his administration stop the release of convicted sex offender Opheim.
Governorís Office Telephone: 651-201-3400
Office of the Governor
130 State Capitol
75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55155
As always, please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or want to share your thoughts on the legislative session.
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