For more information contact: Andrew Wagner 651-296-2809
The first week is always one of the most exciting at the legislature. I was honored to be sworn-in and take the oath of office, officially kicking off my second term representing Rosemount, Apple Valley, and Coates in Saint Paul.
It's humbling to know that so much history has been made in the Capitol building, and the 89th session of the legislature will continue that tradition as we work to address the challenges and important issues facing our state.
The Rosemount Town Pages wrote a story about the beginning of session, and included my comments on serving in the majority for the first time. You can read that story by clicking here.
Some other updates from the first week of the legislative session:
Veterans Hiring Tax Credit
This year I am once again chief authoring a Veterans Hiring Tax Credit bill aimed at reducing the unemployment rate for our servicemen and women here in Minnesota and reducing the tax burden on our businesses.
While the civilian and veteran unemployment rate have both fallen in the past year, the veteran unemployment rate remains higher than the civilian population. In addition, with operations ending in Iraq and Afghanistan, hundreds or thousands of additional veterans will be coming home, begin the process of transitioning back to civilian life, and will be looking to find new employment.
This is a win-win-win proposal as it aims to reduce unemployment, reduce the tax burden on businesses, and encourage veterans to retire from the military as tax-paying citizens here in Minnesota.
I was proud of the broad bipartisan support this bill received in the 2013 session, and once again made it my goal to secure bipartisan support for this issue. So far, I have ten Republican co-authors and three DFL co-authors of this bill, including Rep. John Persell, the DFL lead on the Veterans Affairs Committee. I was also excited to learn my bill was selected as one of the Top 10 House Files introduced at the beginning of session, making it one of the top priorities as we begin to look at legislation for the 2015 session.
I will keep you updated on the bill's status as session continues, but feel free to read the bill and follow its status here:
Around the Community
I stayed very busy this week, attending a number of events in the community and around the Twin Cities.
On Tuesday, January 6th, I stopped by the Rosemount Coffee Break hosted by SKB Environmental where I got to hear from business owners and other members of the community about their thoughts on the upcoming session, and what issues they hope to see addressed this year at the legislature. I always enjoy connecting with folks in the business community so I can be prepared to effectively advocate on their behalf at the Capitol.
On Wednesday, January 7th, there were no official legislative meetings so as to allow legislators to attend the "One Minnesota" Conference in Minneapolis. This event was put on by the leadership of both the House and the Senate to give legislators of both parties and legislative bodies the opportunity to see presentations from the State Economist, former Speaker Steve Sviggum, former Senate Majority Leader Roger Moe, and many others to give us an overview of issues and challenges facing our state, and to encourage collaboration and problem solving on a bipartisan basis.
Later that evening, many legislators attended the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce Session Priorities Dinner. There, we heard from Governor Mark Dayton, House Speaker Kurt Daudt, House Minority Leader Paul Thissen, Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, and Senate Minority Leader David Hann, who laid out their respective visions for the upcoming session, and discussed the priorities put forward by the Chamber.
Earlier this morning I attended the Association of Metro School Districts (AMSD) Session Preview event where we heard from Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius about the Governor's education priorities, and some of the issues facing Metro-area school districts.
We also heard from House Education Finance Committee Chair Jenifer Loon and Senate Education Committee Chair Chuck Wiger about the House and Senate education priorities.
As a Representative of a seven-county Metro-area school district, District 196, I believe it's important that Metro-area school districts work with both the State and Greater Minnesota school districts on ways to improve education and make sure we're addressing the unique needs of each school district.
A clear theme was the importance of adding funding to the per pupil formula, creating more flexibility in how funding can be used by districts, and ensuring we have the best teachers in the classroom. I look forward to working towards those goals this session to make sure every child receives an excellent education here in Minnesota.
I also met with District 196 Superintendent Jane Berenz this afternoon to discuss education priorities for the upcoming session, and what we at the legislature can do to improve schools here in our community.
Superintendent Berenz explained the great work that is being done in District 196 to use funding effectively to provide the best possible education for our students. She also shared her desire to have excellent educational opportunities for all students, flexibility in how funding can be used, and asked for no more unfunded mandates. I look forward to working closely with Superintendent Berenz and other District 196 staff as the session gets underway to ensure that we are striving for what is best for the students in our community.
I also want to welcome and introduce to you my new legislative assistant Ethan Hellier. Ethan will be the person you’re likely to come in contact with when you call my office, and will assist in scheduling requests and other correspondence.
As always, I hope you'll contact me if you have any questions or comments you'd like to share. You can reach my office by email at email@example.com or by phone at 651-296-4306. Please consider "liking" my page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/repannawills and following me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/annacwills for more updates.
Have a great weekend, and stay warm.
State Representative, District 57B
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