Hello from the State Capitol,
It was a busy first full week at the Capitol, with committee meetings starting up, and legislation being introduced. I have authored several bills, which I dropped into the hopper this week. I look forward to your input on these and other issues that are of interest to you.
Bipartisan MNDOT Land Use Bill
I have Chief Authored HF 123, which is co-authored with colleagues from both parties. It would require the MN Department of Transportation (MNDOT) to review all of its land holdings, from projects completed for five or more years, and determine what is excess. Then, those would be placed for sale. All across the state there are examples of such property. Allowing them to return to the property tax rolls, increase economic activity, and most importantly, create jobs is important. I am excited that Senator Dave Senjem will carry this legislation in the Senate.
Minnesota FFA Legislative Reception
I attended the FFA’s annual legislative reception on Monday night. I was able to meet with, visit, and learn from young leaders from across Minnesota. We talked about the biggest challenges and opportunities facing Minnesota’s farmers and about their work in this great program.
Looking Out For Agriculture
During the opening day of the Minnesota House of Representatives, my colleagues and I proposed an amendment to the temporary rules of the House that made sure agriculture wasn’t forgotten under the metro DFL leadership now in control. After winning the majority, DFL Speaker Paul Thissen moved the important functions of the House Agriculture Finance Committee into the Environment and Natural Resources Committee and eliminated that committee from existence. This new committee, made up of environmental and agriculture duties, is chaired by Rep. Wagenius of Minneapolis with no agriculture experience and a history of voting against the interests of Greater Minnesota and agriculture in general.
It was again brought up in the House Rules Committee. House Republicans made the case to return agriculture funding and program oversight back to its own committee with leaders that thoroughly support Minnesota farmers, but DFL’ers voted “No.” Agriculture employs one in five Minnesotans, either directly or indirectly, and we can’t afford to put this critical piece of our state economy on the back burner. I will continue to support the GOP amendment to give Agriculture Finance its own committee again and a proper chair that respects Minnesota’s vital farm community.
Promoting Minnesota Hospitals and Providers
I’m also the Chief Author of HF 77 which would exempt, from the 2% provider tax, hospitals, medical laboratories, and other health care providers that receive 60% or more of their patients from outside the state. They could choose to locate outside of Minnesota; however, they take a 2% hit to their bottom line just for being in Minnesota. One prime example is the samples lab in Rochester. It competes with major labs across the US, and could easily be in any state, but provides hundreds of well-paying jobs right here.
Making it Difficult to Shift Money from Schools
I’ve signed on as a co-author to HF 53 which would make it harder for the legislature to play the decades-old budgeting practice of shifting/delaying payments to public schools. The bill would require a three-fifths majority (rather than a simple majority) of both bodies before such a shift would occur. I believe strongly in fully funding our schools and that our kids should not serve as a last minute source of money for the state budget.
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Thank you for the honor of being your representative in St. Paul…