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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Linda Runbeck (R)

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Legislative Update from Rep. Linda Runbeck

Friday, May 18, 2018

Dear Neighbors,

In the last four days of the 2018 legislation, many bills are working their way through negotiations with the Governor and the Senate.

On Tuesday, the House approved the conference committee report for the Omnibus Tax bill that was agreed to by the Minnesota House and Senate. Thanks to our plan, more than 2.2 million Minnesota filers would benefit from a tax cut in 2018. Highlights included:

  • Helping middle-class Minnesotans keep more of what they earn by cutting the first tier income tax rate from 5.35% to 5.25% by tax year 2020. Cutting the second tier income tax rate from 7.05% to 6.85% by tax year 2020. This would mark the first income tax rate reduction in Minnesota since 2000.
  • Protecting families by preserving a state personal and dependent exemption of $4,150.
  • Preserve the standard deduction, itemized deductions, as well as the personal and dependent exemptions.
  • Supporting hometown businesses and farmers by reinvesting extra revenue from corporate tax changes into Section 179 conformity and overall rate reductions.

Unfortunately, the Governor vetoed our tax bill on Thursday.

We know that without a tax bill we leave taxpayers with a mess for filing 2018 taxes next year. We are making an effort to give the Governor a bill he can sign, also a bill that preserves some of the tax cuts passed along from the federal level. I recognize the time remaining is short, so stay tuned on this.

The public learned this week of updated numbers from the Metropolitan Council on the projected costs for the Southwest Light Rail (SWLRT) project. Tuesday’s news revealed that the project’s price tag has gone up $145 million, bringing the total cost to just over $2 billion. Because the state has pulled its funding from this project, all remaining costs (minus federal support) will fall on Hennepin County residents.

I expect the price tag to continue to rise and am hopeful the project will not win federal funding as it is a bad transit investment for Minnesota and the metro area.

Finally, the House approved legislation on Tuesday that brings much needed reforms to the Metropolitan Council. Currently, Metropolitan Council members are appointed by and accountable to the sitting governor. The bill we passed requires locally elected officials to be on the council, stagger terms of members, and eliminate the Transportation Advisory Board (TAB).

A bill I chief-authored is awaiting the Governor's signature. Supported by 11 cities in the northeast quadrant of the metro, this bill would set a one-year delay in the effective date of an overreaching judge's orders in the White Bear Lake/DNR lawsuit brought by residents and supporters of White Bear Lake regarding low lake levels.

Finally, I expect a busy weekend here in St. Paul as we work to finish this year’s session on a high note. I am hoping for final agreement from the Governor on a tax bill including federal conformity, a pension bill, school safety funding, elder abuse reform legislation and a Constitutional amendment ballot question dedicating auto parts sales taxes to roads and bridges.

I’ll have more information for you following our constitutionally mandated adjournment on Monday, May 21 at midnight. For now, enjoy the gorgeous spring weather.


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