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

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Legislative report

Friday, March 23, 2018

Greetings,

First of all, hats off to the Delano Tigers for pulling off thrilling victories in the first two rounds of state high school basketball tournament play. Good luck to the Tigers as they take on Columbia Heights for the state championship 5 p.m. Saturday at Target Center.

Most of our focus in the House remains on committee efforts to bring bills into initial stages of the process so they may remain viable for passage into law this session. For example, a hearing successfully took place for a bill I am authoring to help make Minnesota a more competitive place to do business.

The House Tax Committee I serve also is busy assembling a tax conformity bill, which would allow Minnesota’s tax code to match up with sweeping federal changes which took place earlier this year. In the coming weeks, the House will unveil its tax conformity proposal and, rather than using tax conformity to raise taxes on Minnesotans, we will look to hold Minnesotans harmless.

Minnesotans should not be asked to pay more taxes, especially when the state has a surplus of $329 million and growing. Yet the governor’s supplemental budget includes more than a billion dollars in proposed tax increases and fee increases on DMV visits to pay for fixes to the state’s failing new Minnesota Licensing and Registration System.

As for the broken MNLARS, the House and Senate each approved a bill to keep the lights on with that program. It is extremely disappointing that project mismanagement has basically forced the Legislature to provide rescue funding, but the plain fact is we need this system to be working so people can complete basic vehicle licensing and registration transactions. Without the funding we provided, MN.IT officials testified that MNLARS contractors would be laid off at the end of the month, making a bad situation even worse.

The silver lining to this subject is the bill we approved provides some measures of accountability and oversight to help make sure we put this system on track. We are requiring a request for information to determine whether a private vendor is a better option, and also stipulating the governor’s administration must seek an extension from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for REAL ID.

This week has been National Agriculture Day and this year farmers in Minnesota are enjoying a good number of benefits House Republicans led to enactment. This includes:

  • Ag Land Property Tax Relief: 240,000 agriculture land owners will see $42 million in property tax relief by reducing the unfair burden farmers pay for school bond referendums.
  • Beginning Farmer Tax Credit: More than 400 farmers are expected to benefit from a new tax credit designed to recruit the next generation of farmers.
  • Ditch Mowing Moratorium: A new law giving policymakers time to craft a ditch mowing policy that respects property owners and prevents future government overreach.
  • Ag Co-op Health Plans: A new law allows organizations with member owners – such as farm cooperatives – to provide health insurance to their members giving farmers the opportunity to secure health insurance with stable costs, but also gives them access to the local doctors.

Look for more news from the Capitol soon. Until next time, have a good weekend and GO, TIGERS!

Regards,

Joe

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