By Dean Urdahl
State Representative, District 18B
With the 2005 legislative session at the halfway point, I would like to use this space to update you on what I am doing and set the table for what to expect for the rest of the session.
I am working on 24 different bills this year, but I would like to highlight four. First is a bill to offer tax credits for employers that create high paying jobs that bring outside wealth into small or economically challenged counties. Parts of Greater Minnesota that were left behind in the 1990s need this kind of legislation to encourage job growth.
The second bill I’m focusing on is House File 719, which would award dairy producers with income tax credits for improvements they make to their dairy operations. The bill allows up to $75,000 in credits on individual income taxes for producers who build new barns; fences; water and feed facilities; milking operations; and milk storage facilities. The credit could be taken all at once or over a 15-year span. You will recall we passed similar dairy investment credits in 2004. It is good to see them receiving bipartisan support because it shows a strong commitment to our agriculture industry.
I’d like to highlight a bill I introduced a few weeks ago to create an Aquatic Invasive Species Fund to fund efforts to prevent the spread of invasive plant and animal species into clean waters and manage waters already contaminated. My bill raises approximately $5-6 million for the fund by selling a $10 decal that will be required for all watercraft used in public waters.
Last, I’d like to mention House File 118, or “The Cheeseburger Bill” as the media calls it. The Cheeseburger Bill would protect restaurants and food manufacturers from lawsuits alleging their food product caused a person to gain weight or suffer an obesity related health condition. But it is about more than just lawsuits; it is about personal responsibility. It will stop a person from putting blame on someone else for a problem the person created by his or her own actions. We need more personal responsibility in our society – not less – and I think my bill will force people to think seriously about the consequences of their choices.
Those are some of the issues I’ve been working on, but they are just a few of the important issues we are dealing with this year. The House and Senate passed separate bonding bills in February and are now working in conference committee to reconcile the bills’ differences. I expect an agreement will be reached within the next few weeks and that the bill will be on the governor’s desk not long after.
We will also soon be taking votes on a two bills we expect to pass with near unanimous bipartisan support. Our bills to crack down on the spread of methamphetamine and to toughen penalties for sex offenders will likely come to the House floor in early April. As recent events show, these are without a doubt the two most urgent public safety issues we face and you can expect strong action on them this year.
If there are issues I have not mentioned that you think deserve more attention or that you would like to talk with me about, please contact me. You can send an email to email@example.com or call my office at 1-800-920-5861. I always appreciate hearing from you and I welcome your input. Thank you.