For more information contact: House GOP Communications 651-296-5522
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The 2015 legislative session has begun, and I am honored to be serving as your voice at the Capitol. It’s a true privilege to bring Eden Prairie’s priorities to state government, and I encourage you to contact me throughout session should you have questions, concerns or ideas about legislation. Your input is valuable to me!
HIGHLIGHTS IN THIS UPDATE:
First Day of Session
Tuesday, January 6th marked the first day of the 2015 session, and legislators were sworn in for their new term. I am excited to get back to work!
Additionally, the new House Republican Majority officially elected its leaders. State Representative Kurt Daudt will serve as Speaker of the House, and Representative Joyce Peppin will serve as Majority Leader.
I am honored to be Chairing the Education Finance Committee this session—a committee that will focus on funding our schools and passing policies that increase academic opportunities for all Minnesota students. Providing a world-class education for our youth helps ensure that Minnesota’s economic future is a bright one, and I look forward to implementing research-proven policies that close the achievement gap and help our students succeed.
In addition to chairing Education Finance, I will also be serving on the Commerce and Regulatory Reform, Taxes, and Ways and Means committees this biennium.
Republican Priorities for 2015
Although session just began last week, the new House majority is already getting to work and have introduced our top five priorities this session. House Files 1-5 encompass a vision for our state’s future that we believe will positively impact Minnesotans from every economic background, every community and every age group.
Here are the first five House Files:
Federal Tax Conformity
This Thursday, House Republicans moved quickly to pass House File 6, a bill that conforms Minnesota’s tax code to the federal tax code, complying with the Bush Tax Cuts extended in 2014.
Fast tracking this legislation ensures that, unlike last year when federal conformity was not approved by the legislature until March, every Minnesotan can receive their largest possible refund without having to file an amended return. But even more important, passage of HF 6 means that thousands of Minnesota homeowners, students, families and educators can keep more of their hard earned money.
As the House Education Finance Chair, I am particularly pleased to be the chief author on House File 2, legislation that gives every child the opportunity to receive a world-class education and one of House Republicans’ top priorities for this session.
The first policy initiative in HF 2 gives school districts more flexibility to retain top-quality teachers. In Minnesota, there is strong support for funding our public schools, but parents, taxpayers and community members want to ensure their investment is bringing good value to our schools and offering children a well-rounded, quality education. With teacher evaluations now in place to assess educator effectiveness, many believe now is the time to make merit a factor when school districts have to make reductions in their teaching positions.
Currently, the legislature is tying the hands of locally elected school board members and district officials when it comes to making staffing decisions, with state law mandating that the decisions be based solely on seniority unless the local union allows other factors to be considered. Research indicates that teacher effectiveness is critically important to the successful education of children, so performance evaluations must be a tool used in staffing and retentions decisions.
Of course, tenure should still play a role, and I believe that a fair, locally-negotiated process can be implemented for our school districts to ensure the best teachers are leading our students.
Public support for reforming teacher tenure practices is growing, and with Governor Dayton stating he wants to take Minnesota’s education experience from good to great, now is the time to implement meaningful reform.
In addition to ensuring the most effective teachers are teaching our students, HF 2 also increases access to quality teaching candidates by directing the Board of Teaching to develop streamlined procedures for sensible out-of-state teacher licensure reciprocity, and allowing effective educators prepared through alternative pathways to teach in Minnesota.
Furthermore, the bill empowers local districts to tap into community talent for vocational, technical and career education programs, giving students more options and opportunities to learn about future career paths beyond the traditional four year college route.
I am excited about HF 2 and am hopeful we can find common ground with the Senate to get these reforms on the governor’s desk. It’s the right thing to do for our students, school districts and communities, and will help ensure Minnesota students remain academically competitive with students from across the globe.
I will keep you updated about this bill’s progress as well as other education initiatives moving through the legislature this session.
Estate Tax Legislation
On Monday, I introduced House File 82, legislation that will conform Minnesota’s estate tax to the federal exclusion of $5.43 million. The current exemption for our state is $1.4 million for 2015 and will go up to a maximum of $2 million starting in 2018.
Minnesota’s estate taxes, compared to other states and federal law, punish successful small business owners who want to pass on their businesses to the next generation. The state is taking a short-sighted view on this issue, rather than encouraging the future growth and success of these businesses.
I have a long and growing list of bipartisan co-authors on my bill and am hopeful that we can get this important measure on the governor’s desk for signature this year.
Upcoming Town Hall
I will be holding a town hall meeting on Saturday, January 31st at 10:00-11:30 AM in the large meeting room of the Eden Prairie Library to discuss the upcoming legislative session and answer questions.
I hope to see you and many members of our community there!
Please continue to send me your thoughts, ideas and suggestions. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-296-7449. I look forward to hearing from you!
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