I hope this letter finds you well.
Last week, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 to help thousands across the country and in Minnesota recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. If you want to learn more about this robust assistance package, the nonpartisan National Council of State Legislatures (NCSL) has an excellent overview of the measure you can check out here.
With incoming federal funds and a revised state budget forecast, Governor Walz has revised his state budget proposal. The new plan does the following:
- Cuts taxes for Minnesotans who received unemployment benefits during the pandemic
- Expands the renter’s property tax refund
- Increases eligibility for the Working Family Credit
- Creates Earned Sick and Safe Time to ensure that workers can accrue up to 48 hours per year of paid leave
Additionally, Governor Walz’s budget includes modified conformity for the Paycheck Protection Program and Shuttered Venues grant, both of which have been valuable lifelines to Minnesota’s small businesses. Approximately 90% of the loans received in Minnesota will receive the full tax exemption. This will ensure that Minnesota’s small businesses remain an economic engine for communities across the state. You can read more about the governor’s revised budget proposal here.
Committee deadlines are upon us, which help legislators narrow the focus on priority bills to continue forward. Here is a look at a few bills I am authoring for our communities and state.
Last week, I presented a bill that would provide support for our post-secondary students, including those who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislation contains provisions that would:
- Help ease the burden of the pandemic’s impact by extending eligibility to the state grant and child care grant programs, if students needed to take time away from school to care for loved ones who were ill
- Breaks down barriers for students and graduates who need to access their transcript records for a job, another school or training program.
- Provide additional protections for students who attend private career institutions that are at-risk of closure or have abruptly closed. It is important to make sure what happened to Argosy students a few short years ago is never repeated again in Minnesota.
Affordable and Renovated Housing
This week, I presented a bill that would help provide loans and grants to renovate existing owner-occupied and rental housing units in Fridley; 77 percent of the housing units in Fridley are more than 60 years old. The bill is being considered for inclusion to a larger tax bill.
Railroads have been operating in New Brighton since the late 1800s. With 11 at-grade crossings, complaints regarding train horn/whistle noise have come in from across the City and neighboring cities. This week, I presented a bill in the House Capital Investment Committee that would enact whistle free zones to be established at railroad crossings. This would help mitigate train noise throughout in New Brighton.