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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Joe McDonald (R)

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Legislature convenes for 2017

Friday, January 06, 2017

 

House Image

Honored to participate in the House swearing-in ceremony Tuesday at the Capitol.

Greetings,

It was good to be back in the House chamber this week as the 90th Legislature convened at the Capitol to begin the 2017 session.

I’ve been eager for the session to start so we can get down to business on the issues people in our area are most concerned about. We have spent months talking about priorities such as providing tax relief, getting a grip on soaring health care costs and fixing our roads and bridges.

It is exciting that now we are back at the Capitol working on legislation to make those things happen. In fact, we already made headway on tax relief. On Thursday, the House fast-tracked into passage $21.7 million in immediate tax relief for Minnesotans by bringing the state’s tax code into compliance with federal provisions. This action was necessary by Jan. 11 in order for tax software programs to be updated in time for qualifying Minnesotans to take advantage of available reductions this tax season.

Highlights of the bill (H.F. 2) include:

  • Providing deductions for higher education expenses
  • Providing deductions for teacher classroom expenses up to $250
  • Excluding compensation from taxable income for those who were wrongfully incarcerated
  • Eliminating the need for two sets of depreciation schedules for those who purchase work equipment
  • Providing an itemized deduction for mortgage insurance premiums
  • Excluding from gross income loan forgiveness on home foreclosures
  • Allowing the tax paid on high-cost employer health care coverage to be claimed as an itemized deduction

This is just the very first step toward helping Minnesotans by correcting the careless and unreasonable tax increases Democrats passed when they had full control at the Capitol. Much work remains on this subject and we will continue offering proposals for tax relief this session. But, for now, it is good to start the session on such a positive note by lessening the tax burden on citizens. The Senate is urged to provide expedient approval so it can be presented to the governor for enactment.

Another top priority this session is to get a handle on the soaring cost of health insurance. Republicans also Thursday moved to bring to a vote the 2017 Health Care Emergency Aid and Access bill (H.F. 1), which would provide premium relief, extend access to doctors for continuity of care, and begin to reform the individual market. Disappointingly, Democrats blocked the measure, despite agreeing days earlier expedite premium relief for Minnesotans.

I will pass along more information as the 2017 session progresses and, as always, correspondence is welcome from the citizens of District 29A. You also should consider making a visit to the Capitol this session. The massive restoration on this historic, century-old structure is nearing completion and the building looks as gorgeous as it did the day it opened way back in 1905.

Regards,

Joe

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