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State Representative Jenifer Loon

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100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
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Posted: 2012-04-20 00:00:00
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Email update

Conf. committees; stadium bill; Capitol restoration


Greetings from the Capitol!

In this issue:
1. Conference committee appointments
2. Stadium bill dealt setback
3. Capitol restoration voted down

1. Conference committee appointments
This week I was appointed to serve on two conference committees. One committee pertains to a tax reform bill and the other is for a K-12 omnibus education bill.

The tax bill is a combination of changes to help small businesses and enhance job creation. One of the most notable provisions of the tax bill (H.F. 2337) reduces and phases out the statewide property tax levy on commercial/industrial properties. For commercial/industrial property taxes payable in 2013 this bill would reduce the class rate tax on the first $150,000 of property value by 70 percent of the total property value. Starting in 2014, the entire levy would be reduced by 8.33 percent each year until fully phased out over 12 years.

Other significant provisions increase the Angel Investment Tax Credit program by $5 million to help attract needed capital for small business start-ups; allow small businesses an up-front sales tax exemption on their purchases of capital equipment; and provide tax credits (up to $9,600 per new hire) to businesses who hire disabled or unemployed veterans. The Senate has a jobs-oriented tax bill as well, and the conference is being held to develop one package both bodies can pass and the Governor can sign. Negotiations have been happening all week to make progress on this important measure to improve Minnesota's business climate and create conditions that encourage job creation.

The education bill, HF 2949, was wrapped up today in a very bipartisan manner. The Commissioner of Education worked closely with the House and Senate conferees to address such important matters as evaluation of school principals, career and technical education, early literacy education, and teacher basic skills test requirements. I will send a more detailed summary of this bill early next week, but overall this bill has some provisions very important to Eden Prairie schools and our local community and I was pleased to help develop this package.

2. Stadium bill dealt setback
A bill to fund a new Vikings stadium was defeated 9-6 in a House committee on Monday night. Republicans voted 5-4 in favor of moving the bill to the next committee, while Democrats voted 5-1 against advancing it.

The bill calls for a $975 million stadium to be built on the Metrodome site, including adjacent land. The Vikings would pay $427 million of construction costs. The state would contribute $398 million and Minneapolis would pay the remaining $150 million. The state revenue would come from allowing charitable gaming operations to use electronic pull tabs, electronic bingo and sports tipboard games.

This is an extremely fluid situation and things are changing by the minute at the Capitol. The Senate is scheduled to conduct hearings for three separate stadium bills today alone. One key point to keep in mind is this will need to be a genuinely bipartisan effort if a stadium proposal is going to gain traction. Time is short before the session ends, but a lot could happen on the stadium front the next week. I will keep you updated as things evolve and welcome your comments and opinions on this issue.

3. Capitol restoration voted down
A bill (H.F. 2754) to bond for a $221 million, four-year Capitol restoration project was voted down this week. This proposal also requires bipartisan support since bonding bills need approval from three-fifths of each legislative body to pass. Bipartisan unity was missing on this issue as well. All but one Republican House member present on the floor voted for the bill, but the vast majority of Democrats voted against it.

This was a disappointing turn of events because our Capitol is in serious need of rehabilitation. The building is nearly 110 years old and the short-term fixes performed over the years simply are not going to suffice anymore. The mechanical and electrical systems need upgrading. Vintage artwork is deteriorating and the exterior is literally crumbling. A fellow House member held up a football-sized chunk of marble which fell to the ground from an outside wall. Balconies outside the House chamber are littered with crumbled marble.

What adds to the curiosity of the stadium and Capitol projects being voted down is Gov. Mark Dayton listed them as two of his top priorities this session.

The unofficial target for adjournment is April 30 and it remains to be seen what will happen between now and when the session closes. Please know I will do my best to keep you informed as the final days of the session unfolds.

Thanks very much for taking the time to read this update. I hope you have a great weekend and I look forward to hearing from you on issues that matter most to you.

Best regards,
Jenifer

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