Greetings from the House, where today one key bill reached enactment as others are being scrutinized by committees and still more are being introduced.
Let’s start with the latter. This week I introduced a bill prohibits road authorities from regulating when ditches may be mowed and also prevents them from requiring permits for mowing.
The intent is to protect a large number of Minnesota landowners who have expressed concern over MndDOT expanding its statewide permitting standards for mowing and baling in the right of way.
People are frustrated and see this as another example of government encroachment with unelected bureaucrats in St. Paul making decisions that illustrate yet again how out of touch they are with rural Minnesota. We all care about roadside habitats for birds and other wildlife and want to be good stewards of our land, but this kind of agency overreach needs to be held in check. State statute has been in place regarding mowing in ditches since the 1980s, so why are the agencies just now deciding to add more red tape?
Click here for audio of me discussing this issue on area radio.
As for bill enactment, the $21.7 million in immediate tax relief for Minnesotans the House passed last week also received Senate approval and was signed into law by the governor this morning. This is great news because Minnesotans now will be able to see relief this tax season by capitalizing on federal provisions that wouldn’t have been available without enactment of this bill.
House committees also are making progress on key subjects such as health insurance premium relief and finding a solution to the Real ID issue.
I wrote last week how unfortunate it was Democrats blocked House Republican efforts to fast-track health insurance premium relief. This is a top priority for House Republicans and we have been moving that package through committees this week at a good pace and it soon should come to the floor for a vote.
The key difference between proposals offered by House Republicans and the Dayton/Democrat position is that House Republicans are looking to provide both immediate relief and reform for the long term. Dayton and other Democrats are taking more of a Band-Aid approach by just providing the short-term relief. My thought is that, by nixing reform and just providing relief, Minnesotans are likely to wind up in the same insurance rate crunch next year. We owe it to hardworking citizens to prevent that from happening.
Real ID is another subject that has been in the news. The federal government is raising the bar on ID requirements to, among other things, board commercial, domestic flights. Minnesota’s standard ID does not meet new federal standards so we need to find a solution that allows for compliance while also providing citizens with data security.
The House’s proposal features two tracks, including an opt-out tier for people who do not want to participate in Real ID. This plan is virtually identical to the one we passed last year, only to have it stall in the conference committee process.
On a separate topic, a committee I serve this week received testimony from Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority representatives regarding the inappropriate use of U.S. Bank Stadium suites by MSFA family, friends and political allies. Click here for the story, including some of what I asked the MSFA chairwoman.
Look for more news as these and other issues develop. But, before closing, I want to remind District 16A residents that I will be co-hosting a series of town hall meetings with Sen. Gary Dahms on Friday, Jan. 20. The schedule is at the bottom of this email and I hope you can join us to discuss the issues.
JAN. 20 TOWN HALL MEETING SCHEDULE