For more information contact: Andrew Wagner 651-296-2809
With only three weeks left to go this session, we remain hard at work here at the legislature. Our committee work has been completed, and we are in session nearly every day of the week, even occasional Saturdays, debating and passing the bills that will make up the 2014-2015 biennium budget. Below are a few of the Omnibus bills that we have passed out of the House chamber recently.
Omnibus Bill Update
On Wednesday, the House debated and ultimately passed the Tax Omnibus bill, HF 677. This bill raises $2.6 billion dollars in taxes, including taxes on alcohol, cigarettes, and sports memorabilia that would impact hardworking taxpayers at every income level. Due to reductions in the income tax brackets, thousands of Minnesotans making even as little as $21,651 per year could be vaulted in to a new tax bracket, raising their income taxes. In fact, these adjustments bring in nearly as much revenue as the new 4th tier tax on those making over $500,000 per year. I just don’t think this is fair, and a big reason why I voted no on this bill.
Last Saturday, the House debated and passed the State Government Finance and Veterans Affairs Omnibus bill, HF 1184. While this bill does have positive reforms and spending proposals for our veterans, those are overshadowed by the changes that take away oversight of our state agencies.
This bill also spends more funds than requested by agencies, and eliminates the Sunset Commission. This Commission was established in 2011 to review the effectiveness of state government programs in an effort to make them more efficient and eliminate the ones that are no longer necessary. I am disappointed that this bill grows government while reducing our oversight of agencies and programs.
On Tuesday, the House debated and passed the K-12 Education Omnibus bill, HF 630. This bill repeals grad standard testing for our students. The vast majority of students can and should be held to a graduation standard that ensures that they are ready to be productive citizens after high school. But by repealing the grad standard, we are taking away the high expectation that our students can achieve success.
The bill also spends millions of dollars on Department of Education programs that I think could have been better spent going directly to the classroom as a part of increased per-pupil funding. The bill also proposed tens of millions of dollars in unfunded mandates on our schools that I simply couldn’t vote for. If we’re going to implement new programs, I think it’s our responsibility to fully fund them rather than put additional burdens on schools that are already stretched-thin for financial resources.
In last week's email update I addressed several additional concerns with these bills. My colleagues and I offered amendments to improve the bills and address our concerns, but unfortunately our efforts failed. Because these concerns were not resolved, I could not in good conscience support the Tax, Education, or State Government bills.
We are still waiting to debate the Energy and Legacy bills. I will be sure to keep you updated on those bills. I am looking forward to debate on the Legacy bill, as it is the last remaining Omnibus bill from the committees I served on.
If you are interested in following House proceedings, you can view floor sessions as well as check the schedule of live webcasts at: www.house.mn/htv/schedule.asp.
Once we pass all of the Omnibus bills, they go to the Senate and many will go to a conference committee with both Senators and Representatives working out any differences between House and Senate language. Then they will come back to the House for final passage before heading to Governor Dayton's desk. If you would like more information on these bills, please contact my office with your questions by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 651-296-4306.
Advocates at the Capitol
Thursday was Disability Day at the Capitol. I had the opportunity to speak at the rally to the many disability advocates who attended. I thanked them for advocating for their cause, and shared with them that as a former PCA I understand the challenges they face on a daily basis.
Also on Thursday was Sportsmen Day at the Capitol, and I had the chance to speak with Sportsmen who were in Saint Paul to advocate for hunters’ rights. Hunting is a sport that nearly 600,000 Minnesotans value and enjoy in our great state.
Minnesota Zoo's 25th Annual Beastly Ball
Tomorrow, April 27th, is the Minnesota Zoo’s 25th Annual Beastly Ball. This fundraising gala is always a very fun event and I am looking forward to attending in support of the Zoo's efforts to raise private donations to benefit the Zoo's conservation and education programs. If you are interested in donating or finding out more information, please visit their website at http://www.mnzoo.org/bb/donate_event_BB13.asp.
City of Lakeville Job Fair
I wanted to share with you information about another job fair coming up on April 30th in Lakeville. Here are the details if you or a friend is seeking a job.
Date: Tuesday April 30th
20110 Holyoke Avenue
Lakeville, MN 55044
As always, if you’d like to schedule a visit or constituent meeting in Saint Paul or in our community, please contact my office at 651-296-4306 or by email at email@example.com. I always welcome your input and feedback, and am here to answer your questions as well.
Enjoy this beautiful weekend!
State Representative, District 57B
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