The House is busy putting bills into form and bringing them through the initial stages of the committee hearing process at this point in the session. Two bills I have authored related to taxes were among those on the docket.
One bill (H.F. 438) provides a tax exemption for materials used to construct an elementary school in Marshall.
The other bill (H.F. 768) takes this concept a step further, providing exemptions for a broader range of public projects at various local-government levels. 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.
The mayor of Marshall and the staff from Marshall schools did a wonderful job testifying to these bills. The hearings went well on both bills and they remain viable for passage this session.
In other news:
California cars reminder
A quick reminder that public meetings regarding the governor’s effort to bring California’s car standards to Minnesota through the administrative rulemaking process are next week (3 p.m. both Feb. 22 and 23). Links to attend the online events can be found here. And input still can be provided at the Office of Administrative Hearings website until the March 15 deadline. I strongly oppose this push by the governor and covered this issue in greater detail in a previous email.
Vaccine sign-up site
The Minnesota Department of Health has announced a new tool is available for all Minnesotans to sign up to receive an alert when there is a vaccine available to them – regardless if they are currently eligible to receive one.
The “Vaccine Connector” is a tool for all Minnesotans who have not yet been vaccinated – the Vaccine Connector will notify you when it’s your turn for a shot.
You don’t need to sign up if:
- You have already received your COVID-19 vaccine.
- You previously registered for our COVID-19 Vaccine Pilot Program or the COVID-19 Community Vaccination Program.
- You completed the Minnesota COVID-19 Vaccine Education and Child Care survey.
The Minnesota COVID-19 Vaccine Connector will get you information about when, where, and how you can get the vaccine.
It’s important to note that if you are eligible to get vaccinated right now, you do not have to wait for information from the Minnesota COVID-19 Vaccine Connector before you get your shot. If your health care provider or employer contacts you about making an appointment, or if you have another opportunity to get vaccinated, you can and should do that. Click here for more on this new tool.
Energy has been a topic of conversation with widespread blackouts in Texas and even more isolated cases right here in Minnesota.
While we must acknowledge there are numerous factors that played into those recent events, we also should take this as a signal that our infrastructure has vulnerabilities. This is just one more reason we need to make sure our state has an all-of-the-above approach to delivering reliable, affordable energy to citizens. The House majority’s push for 100% renewable energy by 2040 would limit our options and make us more susceptible to power failures.
This is not a stance against renewables, just a recognition of the reality that different forms of energy play different roles on our grid and these layers provide added security.
While we agree there is a need to safely re-open our schools as quickly as possible, the plan Gov. Walz unveiled to help get more middle- and high-school students back in the classroom does not provide a major shift from what already is happening throughout our state. His plan does nothing to incentivize districts to fully reopen if they are currently in distance or hybrid learning.
The science and data show that we can do so safely, and the governor’s own numbers indicate that transmission in schools for teachers is nearly zero. Students have been suffering great setbacks with their mental health, social development and academic achievement and the best remedy is to let them get back to class.
It is good to see the governor has finally acknowledged what we’ve known for months: It’s time to get our students safely back in the classroom. And, on a quick side note: It’s also time to bring consistency to the mask mandate and stop forcing youth athletes to wear them.