Hello from the State Capitol,
Here’s an update on the biggest items I’ve been busy working on.
Health & Human Services Committee
I am excited to announce that I have been appointed to now serve on the Health & Human Services Finance Committee. This committee has oversight over many important parts of Minnesota’s budget and oversees approval for several projects and bills that impact our area. In addition to this, I am also still serving on the Energy and Education Finance Committees.
Ag Education Bill Gaining Steam
My bill to facilitate and promote public/private sponsorships to allow the continuation or return of ag programs to small schools across the state (HF423) now has more than ten authors in the House and I hope to move it forward. This is important for small schools with tight budgets having difficulty with staffing and maintaining ag courses and FFA chapters.
Protecting Tax Deductions and Exemptions
A bill was brought before Government Operations Committee that would eliminate your income tax deductions and exemptions. If this passed, the only way to return these deductions and exemptions to you would be for the legislature to pass new laws in the future. It is very frustrating that it is nearly impossible to end wasteful spending, yet, so easy for the current Majority to raise your taxes by taking away deductions and exemptions. I argued against this bill, however, it passed with DFL votes and is moving on.
State Economy Continues Improving
A new report showed Minnesota’s state revenue collections continue to surpass previous projections, with $140 million more this biennium than expected just last month. This is on top of the $2.5 billion in combined surplus revenue from Nov. 2011 to now. The improvements Republicans made during 2011-12 are working and continue to provide positive economic results. We can balance our budget by simply limiting spending to within the projected 3-percent growth. Instead, the governor proposes $3.7 billion in tax increases that would impact all of us – potentially setting back our economic recovery. We will receive another full report next week, a key component to shaping our new two-year state budget.
Online Open Meeting Law
Next Tuesday I will present HF653 to the Government Operations Committee, a bill to allow local government officials to communicate via social media platforms without violating open meeting laws. In today’s world of technology, local officials often utilize forms of Web-based and mobile technologies for communication, such as Web sites for social networking and microblogging, to be efficient and responsive to citizen needs.