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

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Give it back to taxpayers; MNsure update and more

Friday, March 28, 2014

Dear Neighbor,


Like many of you, we thought this legislative year was to be the year of the "unsession" - reducing government, trimming unnecessary legislation, managing the programs that are in place. Apparently, Governor Dayton has had difficulty controlling his Democrat legislators. A mountain of bills, many containing complex new policy initiatives, all hit the House floor for debate beginning next week. You can watch the legislature begin daily floor sessions by clicking here to stream video.



One year ago, Gov. Mark Dayton and the Democrat-led Legislature passed an 8% budget increase and raised taxes on Minnesotans by $2.1 billion. The tax hikes, combined with an improving economy, have produced a surplus of $1.2 billion after finalizing the state budget. On March 21, the majority party corrected its overreach by passing a bill that sends $443 million back to taxpayers and adds $150 million to the state’s budget reserves.

Good news regarding income taxes: They are easier to file because the state’s definition of income will conform to the federal tax code. (Until 2013, the state had conformed with federal language for 25 years.) There’s one major exception: for 2013 only, the marriage penalty will not be fixed. Had the Democrats’ tax bill conformed to the federal tax code last year, 640,000 married couples would be saving an average of $112 for tax year 2013. In addition, the business sales taxes that were repealed will not be retroactive repeals, costing taxpayers $55.9 million.

Minnesota tax-filers will be able to take advantage of these federal tax code items when filing their 2013 state taxes:


< >Excluding employer-paid education assistanceDeduction of Qualified tuition and related expensesExcluding loan forgiveness (e.g., mortgage short sales) from income taxesIncreased income threshold for the Working Family CreditExcluding employer-paid adoption assistanceIncreased income threshold for student loan interest deductionIncreased eligible expense limit for dependent care credit



A bill I am chief-authoring in the House (HF 2337) seeks $3,000,000 in state bonding money for the city of Hugo.  The city’s purpose is to dramatically reduce the city’s use of groundwater for low-priority purposes such as sprinkling lawns and irrigating golf courses. The project, one of many Hugo has initiated, would impound rainwater and other surface water from several large retention ponds and filter it for re-use purposes such as sprinkling lawns.  Some of the reused water will be sent back to the aquifer. Hugo expects that its groundwater use will be reduced by 80-100 million gallons (or 25%) annually.
I would very much appreciate your views on a number of legislative issues. Please take a moment to share your views with me by clicking here.   


Here is a snap-shot of legislation coming through the legislative process that will likely be enacted into law:

  • Legislation establishing a state employee labor relations board – hand-picked by union bosses.
  • A minority bill to fund the "5-percent campaign" which benefits long-term care workers. The proposal would increase funding for the disabled community by five percent, as well as those who care for them. The majority so far has declined to bring it to the House floor for a vote.
  • The Early Childhood Committee heard a bill which bans smoking in foster homes.
  • The Governor's supplemental budget bill for K-12 Finance was heard in that committee.
  • The Responsible Contractor Bill passed through the Jobs Committee. That same committee also heard a bill to create a broadband development fund. The fund had a $100 million price tag.
  • The Commerce Committee passed the cell phone "kill switch" bill.. A cell phone tracking bill also is ready for a full vote.
  • The bill to remove DWI/DUI immunity for legislators carrying a “get out of jail free card” was passed from the Public Safety Committee to the Civil Law Committee.


As always, I welcome your feedback on these and other issues.



Linda Runbeck

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