We passed a couple of very important bills in the House this week. One pertains to photo ID for voters and the other is geared toward tax relief and job creation.
The former (H.F. 2738) allows Minnesotans to decide whether photo ID should be a requirement for voting. The Senate may tinker with the language when it hears the bill. As of now, the question on our ballots this November will read:
“Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended effective December 1, 2013, to require that all in-person voters present an approved form of government-issued photographic identification at the time of voting; that those not voting in person provide government-issued proof of identity; that all voters be subject to substantially equivalent eligibility verification before a ballot is cast or counted; and that the state provide at no charge an approved photographic identification to eligible individuals?”
We spent approximately nine hours discussing this issue on the House floor earlier this week. Appropriate safeguards are in the bill to make sure every legal voter is provided their opportunity to participate in the process. In addition to the free IDs that will be provided to those who lack one, provisional ballots may be cast and verified at a later date. So, even if you lose your wallet on the way to the poll, you still can vote.
The Legislature passed a similar bill last year, but Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed it. Surveys continually show Minnesotans support this initiative immensely, with 75 to 80 percent in favor. One governor should not be able to silence the will of an overwhelming majority, so we are taking this question directly to the voters.
The House also passed a bill this week called the Tax Relief and Job Creation Act (H.F. 2337). The goal is to help our state be more competitive in the global marketplace. The taxes our businesses pay are among the highest in the United States and our package of improvements will help us improve on that standing.
First of all, our bill freezes the statewide tax on business property for one year and phases out the statewide tax on business property over a 12-year period. This will benefit small businesses throughout the state, especially those outside Minneapolis-St. Paul.
Here are some other highlights:
a $25 million increase in research-and-development credits for Minnesota companies;
a permanent $5 million increase in the Angel Investment Tax Credit;
allowing small businesses to take up-front capital equipment exemptions;
an internship grant program aimed at attracting and keeping talent in Greater Minnesota;
a tax credit for businesses that hire veterans.
We are waiting for Senate action on this bill as well. Have a great weekend and I will be back in touch soon with an update from the Capitol.