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

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Legislative news

Thursday, March 12, 2020
Brad Hennen from Pork Board and Rep. Swedzinski

Thanks to Brad Hennen of the Minnesota Pork Board (above) and people supporting the cause during Homeless Day on the Hill (below) for coming to the Capitol to talk about issues.

Homeless Day on the Hill representatives and Rep. Swedzinski

Dear Neighbor,

Hello from St. Paul and here is a rundown of this week’s headlines from the Capitol:

Funding to combat coronavirus

Earlier this week, the legislature voted unanimously in the House and Senate to approve emergency funding for the Department of Health to continue their response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The bill included protections for taxpayers that would require money to be paid back to the general fund if it goes unspent.

The legislature is considering additional steps to ensure our state and health care system can respond as quickly and effectively as possible — Minnesotans should have confidence that legislators, the governor, and state agencies are working closely based on the expert recommendations of the Minnesota Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control.

As this situation unfolds, social media could be rife with misinformation so please continue to rely only on information from trusted sources. Your best sources for up-to-date information are the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) websites.

MDH: COVID-19 Home Page

MDH: Prepare and Prevent COVID-19

MDH: Situation Update for COVID-19

CDC: COVID-19 Home Page


Tax relief

House Republicans have unveiled a package of significant tax cuts for Minnesota families using the state’s $1.5 billion budget surplus.

The House Republican proposal benefits everyone from seniors to farmers, homeowners, Main Street businesses, college graduates with student loan debt, families with kids in childcare and beyond.

Our plan to eliminate the state tax on social security would be a huge help to senior citizens. It is shameful that our state has been an outlier in taxing social security, and it is time to put an end to that once and for all. We also must fix the Section 179 tax code problem that has left farmers and businesses with unexpected tax bills in the tens of thousands of dollars, and a solution for that is included in the package.

Here are some highlights:

  • Eliminating state taxes on social security benefits. House Republicans successfully pushed to eliminate social security taxes for 250,000-plus Minnesotans in 2017, this provision would finish that effort and eliminate social security taxes entirely.
  • Childcare Tax Credit. Republicans are seeking to help families dealing with high childcare expenses by increasing the income threshold for the dependent care credit from the current cap of $52,160 to $75,000 making thousands more families eligible for assistance paying childcare bills.
  • Doubling the student loan tax credit. House Republicans helped create the first-ever student loan tax credit of up to $500 for college graduates making payments on their loans. The new proposal would double that credit to $1,000.
  • Tax Fairness for Farmers and Main Street Businesses. Last session’s failure to enact full Section 179 conformity is causing massive unexpected tax bills for farmers and businesses. House Republicans are proposing to fully conform and make it retroactive so farmers and businesses are not stuck with tax bills many simply cannot afford.
  • Property Tax Relief. By putting an additional $50 million into school equalization aid, this would effectively result in a property tax cut for Minnesota homeowners by reducing reliance on local property tax revenue.
  • Increasing the Personal Exemption. Every Minnesotan would benefit from an approximately $1,300 increase to the personal exemption.

Improving firearm zoning

A successful committee hearing took place this week to discuss a bill I have authored (H.F. 848) to eliminate the shotgun zone during the regular firearm season.

The objective of this bill is simply to allow people to add a few inches of barrel when they’re hunting. Rifles would increase ease of firearm use for youth compared with shotguns, something that is especially important as we look to entice younger generations of game enthusiasts. This bill also would simplify the rules by applying the same standards found elsewhere in our state to southern Minnesota.

Wisconsin made this change seven years ago and has good success with it, especially in the southwestern part of that state, where the topography is similar to the southeastern portion of Minnesota. The DNR supports this bill, which remains viable for passage later this session.

Until next time, have a good weekend and your input always is welcome.