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

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Update from St. Paul

Monday, May 14, 2018


Before we get to the far less important legislative news, I first want to say I hope it was a happy Mother’s Day for those who celebrated yesterday. It’s the one day we set aside to recognize our mothers, but the ultimate and innumerable roles you fill every single day are truly cherished. I hope you had an enjoyable holiday in the company of family and loved ones.

As for news from the Capitol, the House has provided preliminary approval of numerous supplemental finance packages and a bill providing historic tax relief. With state government fully funded through the two-year budget we approved in 2017, supplemental bills we approved focus on common-sense issues like fixing roads and bridges and improving student safety.

There have been several separate budget packages and a tax bill approved by the House this session and each of them has passed with bipartisan support. It is nice to see the work that has been done in crafting these bills is so good that even some Democrats recognize the benefits and from time to time are joining us in voting to do what’s right for Minnesotans.

I am a member of the conference committee that has been meeting to prepare that crucial tax bill for final passage. We have been working to reconcile differences between House and Senate proposals and the focus remains on adjusting to sweeping federal tax changes and holding as many people as possible harmless. In fact, the House proposal reduces taxes for more than 2.1 million Minnesota filers as the second tier income tax rate would fall from 7.05 percent to 6.75 percent by tax year 2020. This would mark the first income tax rate reduction in Minnesota since 2000.

The House also passed a supplemental budget bill with transportation provisions as we look to build on last session’s largest transportation investment in state history without raising taxes. The House continues to prioritize roads and bridges and a bill we approved puts $385 million more toward transportation needs this year. This bill, too, passed with bipartisan support.

This includes:

  • $250 million for highways statewide through Trunk Highway bonds
  • $145 million in Trunk Highway bonds and $10 million in cash for Corridors of Commerce program projects
  • $25 million for county roads, $6.6 million for city roads, $2 million for township roads
  • $7 million for Small Cities Assistance Program for cities under 5,000
  • $75 million for trunk highway rail grade separation projects
  • $9 million to deputy registrars for MNLARS reimbursement aid
  • Establishes the Freight Rail Economic Development Program
  • Defines the operating costs definition for LRT spending

School safety is another top priority in the House, along with our strong commitment to tax relief and improvements on roads and bridges. The House’s supplemental package on education provides local communities the resources and flexibility they need to meet their specific safety needs. It also includes provisions to address teacher and school employee misconduct through stricter licensing, background checks and mandatory reporting laws. Once again, this bill received bipartisan support on its way to preliminary approval.

These are good bills and the fact they are receiving bipartisan support should carry extra weight as the governor considers his options with legislation we put on his desk. Let’s hope he joins us in doing what’s right for Minnesotans by signing them into law.