Minnesota House of Representatives


State Representative Jenifer Loon

449 State Office BuildingState Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

For more information contact: Austin Bleess 651-296-5529

Posted: 2009-02-20 00:00:00
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Email Update: February 20, 2009

Greetings from the Capitol!

In this issue:
1. Town Hall Meeting Recap
2. 2009 Legislative Survey
3. Legislative Budget Hearing
4. Changes to Minnesota’s Tax Laws
5. Minnesota’s High Education Standards
6. Find out more information

1. Town Hall Meeting Recap
I would like to thank everyone who attended the Town Hall Meeting that I hosted along with Sen. David Hann. It was a great opportunity to discuss what is going on in St. Paul, the budget deficit our state is facing, and local issues as well. I will likely be holding another town hall meeting in the future and I’ll let you know when that meeting is scheduled.

2. 2009 Legislative Survey
In an effort to hear your thoughts on the many issues the Legislature will be dealing with this year I have my 2009 Legislative Survey for you to complete. You can take the survey by going to my website, www.house.mn/42B and clicking the “Online Survey” link. I value your opinion and look forward to seeing the results and reading your comments.

3. Legislative Budget Hearing
On Tuesday, February 24th at 7:00 p.m. Legislators from both sides of the aisle and from both chambers of the Legislature will be meeting at the Bloomington City Hall, located at 1800 W Old Shakopee Rd. The purpose of this meeting is to seek public comment on the state budget. It’s a chance for citizens to let Legislative Leaders know where you stand on the issues of state spending levels, tax rates, and your thoughts on what should be done to deal with the deficit, predicted to be as high as $7 billion.

I will be attending this meeting, along with other elected officials from our area. I encourage you to mark this on your calendar and try to attend. In preparation for the anticipated crowds, a website has been set up where interested people can sign up to speak at these meetings. I would encourage you to sign up if you would like to share your ideas by visiting http://www.house.mn/budgetsignup.asp?loc=Bloomington. Please note that attendees are not required to sign up in advance to have an opportunity to share their comments at the meeting.

4. Changes to Minnesota’s Tax Laws
In a three hour long floor debate this week the House approved a bill that changes some of our state tax code. These changes would conform the Minnesota state tax code to some of the changes in the Federal tax code. Because our state legislature only meets until May and Congress passes tax changes year round, every year at the beginning of session we must pass a “tax conformity” bill.

Some of the changes Minnesota would conform with include:
• counting nontaxable combat pay as earned income for members of the military for purposes of claiming the earned income credit and working family credit;
• allowance of direct transfers to charities from traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs for tax years 2008 and 2009;
• apportioning of the exclusion of gain on the sale of an individual’s principal residence for time periods after Jan. 1, 2009, when the residence was not used as the principal residence; and
• changing requirements for employer-sponsored group health plans to qualify for the employee income exclusion.

The bill must be approved by the Senate before it can be signed into law by Governor Pawlenty.

5. Minnesota’s High Education Standards
In one of my other committees, the House K-12 Education Policy and Oversight Committee, we looked into the high-stakes assessment dilemma by hearing research on test effectiveness. Dr. John Robert Warren, associate professor of sociology at the University of Minnesota, told the committee his three-year study of such testing in 23 states indicates a clear pattern: States set high standards but back off as “political will erodes” in the face of failure rates and legal challenges. Resulting “compromise solutions” neither help graduation rates nor boost student achievement, he said.

He also noted that Minnesota is in unchartered territory when it comes to this testing. It underscored the importance that Minnesota places on high standards in education. It also made clear to me that we need to not be swayed by political pressures until we know the full results of this program.

6. Find out more information
There are many resources available for you to stay up-to-date with what’s going on at the Capitol. I encourage you to check out my website, www.house.mn/42B, to read my latest Capitol Comments and download my podcast. You can also find my podcast in iTunes by searching the iTunes Store for “Jenifer Loon”. As always, feel free to contact me on any legislative issue or with any questions you may have.


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