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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Chris Swedzinski (R)

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This week's news from the House

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Thanks to all the people from Lac Qui Parle, Lyon, Redwood and Yellow Medicine counties who came to St. Paul this week to discuss county-related issues with Sen. Dahms and me.

Dear Neighbor,

It has been another busy week in committees as the House brings proposals up for discussion. Some of these proposals would expand upon a couple of our top achievements from the last biennium, including further reducing health care costs on the individual market and taking another step in lowering Social Security income taxes on our seniors.

Here is a look at those subjects and more:

Reducing health care costs

Legislation we passed in 2017 to create a nation-leading reinsurance program successfully reduced premiums on the individual markets two years in a row. A bipartisan proposal that has been introduced this year would extend that program by three years. The bill received a committee hearing this week and I hope we are able to continue this successful approach.

Social Security taxes

Minnesota was an outlier in fully taxing Social Security income our seniors receive until we achieved reductions during the last biennium. This resulted in 284,000 senior citizens receiving tax reductions and approximately 72,000 of our seniors no longer pay any state income tax on their social security. I will continue to support proposals to further reduce the amount our seniors pay on Social Security income and hope we eventually can eliminate that tax altogether.

Line 3 back in court

Gov. Tim Walz announced this week that he is proceeding with efforts to challenge the Enbridge Line 3 replacement pipeline. His petition for reconsideration is aimed at the unanimous decision by the Public Utilities Commission to grant the certificate of need for the pipeline. I am disappointed in this decision to further delay this project. Line 3 is 60 years old and deteriorating and needs to be replaced, plain and simple. After exhaustive studies and reviews, the experts at the PUC gave their approval for the project to proceed and their decision should be honored.

Progress report on two of my bills

I had successful hearings this week for a couple of bills I have personally authored. They include:

  • H.F. 779 would allow cities to be refunded for construction materials purchased by a contractor for public projects. The current system for local units of government to receive sales tax exemptions on materials and supplies used for construction projects is so cumbersome that often the exemption is not filed for/received. My bill would streamline the process.
  • H.F. 702 expands the provisions regarding what vehicle purchases/uses are exempt from tax for local governments. Currently, purchases by towns of snow plows and dump trucks (excluding automobiles such as vans and pickups) are exempt from sales and excise taxes. This bill levels the playing field by expanding the definition of town to “local government.” This includes joint powers boards, which cities sometimes enter into with other small cities or their county to increase their purchasing power and increase efficiency when investing in equipment.

Stay tuned for more from the Capiol. Next week we are scheduled to receive the governor’s state budget proposal for the next two-year cycle, so I may address that in an upcoming email.

Have a good weekend,