The 2020 session officially began with a House floor session on Tuesday and it came with mixed emotions.
On one hand, there was celebrating as two new members performed the oath of office. There also was mourning for the three Minnesota National Guard members whose lives were tragically cut short in a helicopter crash near Kimball, and also for the passing of Rep. Diane Loeffler, DFL-Minneapolis.
The House tribute to the guardsmen honored Warrant Officer Candidate Kort M. Plantenberg, Chief Warrant Officer 2 James A. Rogers Jr., and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Charles P. Nord. House resolutions were read honoring the three heroes and House members from each guardsman’s respective district shared personal messages. Click here for a quick video of those heartfelt speeches recognizing these men who made the ultimate sacrifice serving us.
As for regular House business, much of the focus the first few days of the session has been on getting committees up to speed so we can start working on the issues at hand. That includes two committees I serve related to taxes and I continue to say my focus this session will be delivering tax relief.
The state’s rainy day account is full, our state government is funded through June of 2021 and we have a surplus of $1.3 billion. Tax dollars are precious and, as we consider how to handle the surplus, it is crucial that we make prudent decisions. We have a golden opportunity to provide meaningful tax relief this session and, as I continue to say, this surplus exists because the state over-collected from taxpayers.
Let’s do the right thing and provide relief to the everyday citizens and businesses whose money has created the surplus instead of using the excess tax collections to fund the expansion of government programs. For instance, our state’s lack of conformity with federal Section 179 tax code has been damaging to Minnesotans, family farmers and small businesses in particular. The state is now treating their like-kind exchanges as income, resulting in people being walloped by surprise tax bills for thousands of dollars from the Dept. of Revenue.
Talk of a bonding bill to fund construction projects throughout the state also will come up this session. We will take a closer look at this subject as things develop, but any bill will have to focus on crucial infrastructure – especially roads and bridges – and be mindful of taxpayers in order to receive the requisite 60-percent support to pass the House.
Stay tuned and, as always, your input is welcomed as we make our way through the session.