Well it’s that time of year again. Last Tuesday, we began the 2015 Legislative Session. It was nice to see new members bring their families and friends to the House chamber. With new members came new leadership, and the Republican Party will be in charge for the next two years. I’ve always been able to get things done across the aisle and expect to do so again.
First week of Session
While the first day was light-hearted, the week got busier as the Governor, the Senate, and the House outlined their priorities. Republican’s unveiled the first 5 bills, setting the tone for this session.
First 5 GOP Bills
House File 1: Provide tax cuts for Corporations and Businesses
This bill has around $250 million in tax cuts ranging from money for mining, manufacturing and timber, to corporate write-offs on research and development and credits for “S-Corp” businesses.
When cutting taxes, I’ve always preferred to put money in real people’s pockets, so we’ll see how the GOP’s top priority develops in the next few months.
H.F. 2: Education reforms
This bill lets school districts use the yet-to-be-fully-implemented Teacher Evaluation System to determine which teachers to layoff. It also allows districts to hire instructors without going through the licensing that teachers are required to do.
I’m not sure you can improve schools by laying off teachers and there’s nothing that prevents tenured teachers from being fired right now. Most research shows that experienced teachers are better for students then brand new ones. I’ve always supported the training, development, and professionalization of our children’s teachers and I want to see quality teachers in the classroom.
H.F. 3: Long-term care proposals
This bill sets up tax-free long term savings accounts and incentives to recruit long term care workers. There’s been bi-partisan support for this and I look forward to seeing how it progresses.
H.F. 4: Short-term money for roads and bridges
This bill takes some reserve money and some surplus money and puts it towards road construction. It spends $200-$250 million a year for the next four years. Non-partisan estimates say that to keep pace with our growing state and not let our roads crumble, we need to spend $6-8 billion over the next ten years ($800 million a year, our state’s economy is $312 billion).
I have to say I’m a little disappointed. House Republicans campaigned on improving rural roads and highways. The Star Tribune observed that this proposal is only enough to build one rural highway bridge a year. What they’re proposing would hardly make a difference in the crisis our roads are facing across Minnesota. Put it this way, if everyone told me that the roof of my house wouldn’t last another year, I wouldn’t pat myself on the back for nailing a few more shingles on it.
H.F. 5: Reforms to MNsure
This bill aligns compensation for MNsure employees with state employees and asks the Federal government for permission to give tax credits for plans not purchased through MNsure. I look forward to continuing improvements at MNsure and want to see how this proposal develops.
We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us this year. I look forward to working with people on both sides of the aisle – but most of all I look forward to working with you. Feel free to contact me at 651-296-3751, or email@example.com.
Thank you for giving me the honor of serving you and our community,