Greetings from St. Paul, where the first week of the 2020 legislative session is nearing its end.
The Legislature convened on Tuesday and much of that first day was ceremonial, including a very well-done tribute honoring the three Minnesota National Guard members who died in a helicopter crash near Kimball last December. House resolutions were issued for Warrant Officer Candidate Kort M. Plantenberg, Chief Warrant Officer 2 James A. Rogers Jr., and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Charles P. Nord.
Warrant Officer Candidate Plantenberg was a 2009 graduate of Albany High School and he served in the Minnesota National Guard for three years. During that time, he had also served a tour of duty in Kuwait.
Our prayers go out to the friends and families of these men and may their legacies as true American heroes remain strong. Click here for video from the House floor as we honored the fallen guardsmen.
As for regular legislative business at hand, it always is an exciting time when we come back into session. High on the list of most people here is how we handle the state’s projected $1.3 billion surplus. We certainly would like to get that money back into the hands of those who paid into it in the form of some tax relief. My particular concern is aligning state tax code to federal code with the Section 179 fast depreciation. That’s tops on my list for this session.
Another tax item sure to be discussed during this year’s legislative session has to do with what’s called “short-term rentals.” This is the result of a directive sent out last year by the Dept. of Revenue telling county assessors to locate and identify cabins and houses that are rented out for short periods of time, usually during the summer months of June through August. It’s thought by some that these rentals represent unfair competition for traditional resorts and hotels because of different property tax classifications.
With the growing popularity of online services advertising this type of rental, I would agree that the situation needs a review. However, there are two issues that make this change of policy difficult to administer. I addressed those details in a column I submitted to area newspapers this week, so check local publications or click here for more on that subject, and also some notes regarding ethanol and increasing the level of this renewable fuel source in the gasoline we utilize for transportation.
On a final note, it should be mentioned that I’m also working to study carefully some of the social issues that are going to be brought up by the House DFLers here this session. We need to be careful about how we move on those. Also, in our area, we hear about critical shortages of daycare and jobs going unfilled either because daycare is not available or because affordable housing is in great need for folks in Greater Minnesota, especially in our District 12B area.
Watch for more from the Capitol soon. I will do my best to keep residents of District 12B up to speed as the session unfolds and I also invite your correspondence by calling my legislative office at (651) 296-4317 or by emailing email@example.com.