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State Representative Jenifer Loon

449 State Office BuildingState Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
651-296-7449

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Posted: 2012-05-03 00:00:00
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Email update

The latest on stadium, trust lands, taxes, education


Greetings from the Capitol!

In this issue:

1. Vikings stadium update
2. School trust lands bill passes into law
3. House approves tax bill
4. Governor enacts education bill

1. Vikings stadium update
Legislative leaders, officials from the city of Minneapolis, representatives from the Vikings and the governor were involved in several hours of meetings yesterday to sort through the options and get the negotiations on this and other end of session priorities back on track.

There have been a lot of twists and turns with this issue over the past couple of days. A new proposal unveiled Tuesday to use general obligation bonding just for the infrastructure for the project was abandoned when significant logistical barriers were discovered that could take weeks to resolve.

The Speaker announced today that the House plans to vote Monday on the bill Rep. Morrie Lanning and Senator Julie Rosen crafted and moved through several committees in the House and Senate. It calls for a $975 million stadium with a fixed roof. The Vikings would pay $427 million of the construction costs. The state would contribute $398 million and Minneapolis would pay the remaining $150 million, making the new stadium's construction costs 44% privately financed, and 56% public monies.

The state revenue would come from expanded charitable gambling revenues including electronic pull tabs, electronic bingo and sports tipboard games. Minneapolis' portion is derived from four different sales taxes currently collected in the city and used to offset the costs of the convention center.

2. School trust lands bill passes into law
The governor has enacted a bipartisan bill the Legislature passed overwhelmingly to help us better manage school trust land set aside for our children.

Land designated for children in our public schools back in 1858 has not been put to the best use over the years and this bill (H.F. 2244) will help us make improvements in the management and return on investment of these assets for the betterment of our children's education.

When it achieved statehood, Minnesota set aside two sections of land in each township for the benefit of the school students. We currently have 2.5 million acres of land and another million acres in mineral rights. These lands were to be managed in such a way that they would generate financial revenue to a trust fund.

Unfortunately, these land investment have been under-performing over the years. Minnesota is now to the point of being in the bottom third of states for land trust revenue. The new law shifts management of the trust lands away from the DNR to a new Director of School Trust Lands to relieve that agency from inherent conflicts that arise as their core mission is not to provide school funding. The Director will be appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate, and report to a permanent Legislative School Fund Commission. Fiduciary responsibility of management of the school trust lands is a constitutional responsibility of the legislature.

Utah faced a similar issue. In 16 years after that state made a comparable management change, Utah's trust fund money grew from $18 million to $1.3 billion.

Our mission is to tap into the resources these acres provide in an environmentally responsible manner. I am pleased we have an opportunity to provide additional funding for our children without raising taxes. We may not be able to make up for lost opportunities, but this new model will help us do better in the future.

3. House approves tax bill
The House provided final approval on a tax bill called the Tax Relief and Job Creation Act (H.F. 2337) this week. I was honored to serve on the conference committee which made final adjustments to align House and Senate language, and removed provisions the Governor found objectionable in discussions with his office and the Commissioner of Revenue. The most notable portions of the tax bill (H.F. 2337) provide up-front sales tax exemption on capital equipment purchases for small businesses, increase the capacity of the Angel Investment Tax Credit program, offer tax credits to employers who hire unemployed veterans, and freezes the inflator on the statewide property tax levy on commercial/industrial properties. We are now awaiting final action from the Senate on the bill so that it can be sent to the governor for his action.

4. Governor enacts education bill
I attended a signing ceremony Tuesday where the governor approved an omnibus education bill (H.F. 2949). The legislation includes sections relating to veterans’ pay for student/soldiers, postsecondary enrollment options and mandatory performance assessments for school principals. I spoke during the ceremony and highlighted two of my provisions in the bill. One addresses the problem that has arisen with provisional teaching licenses for native language experts in language immersion schools. I also discussed an early childhood home-based literacy program that was provided a grant in the bill.

As always, thanks for taking the time to read this update. I hope you will to continue to respond with your thoughts and advice as the legislature works through the remaining days of this session.

Best regards,
Jenifer

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