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

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Legislative Update

Friday, March 21, 2014

Dear Neighbors,

As your representative, I do my best to keep you informed about important issues happening in St. Paul. Here are a few things of note this week.

Drake’s Law

On Monday, Senator Dahms and I introduced Drake’s Law. The bill is named in honor of Drake Bigler, the five month old son of Brad and Heather Bigler, who was killed by a drunk driver. Brad is the head men’s basketball coach at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall.

Drake’s Law increases the maximum sentence for criminal vehicular homicide occurring within 10 years of a previous qualifying offense. Qualifying prior DWI offenses include an aggravating factor such as injury to a person or damage to property. The maximum sentence would be increased from 10 to 15 years.

In July 2012, a drunk driver, who was four times the legal limit, struck the Bigler family while driving to their cabin in Starbuck, MN. Brad Bigler was critically injured along with family member Sharon Schuler. Brad’s wife, Heather Bigler, escaped with minor injuries. Their five-month old son Drake Bigler was killed.

The drunk driver, who was uninjured in the crash, was sentenced to 48 months in prison. This was his third drunk driving offense since 2000.

Drake’s Law is an important piece of legislation, not only because it honors the memory of Drake Bigler, but because it holds people accountable who repeatedly put others in harm’s way.  This is a reasonable approach to toughen our laws against repeat offenders who take innocent lives from behind the wheel.

Rep. Swedzinski and the Bigler family talk to the press about Drake’s Law


Here are some links to local TV news coverage on Drake’s Law.





Tax deadlines are fast approaching and the Senate finally acted on a bill to repeal three harmful business-to-business taxes and conform the state tax code to several federal tax provisions. The House acted on these issues two weeks ago, undoing several of last year’s mistakes that were signed into law by Governor Dayton.

The tax bill, which will be sent on to Governor Dayton for signature today, will give taxpayers additional refunds through federal conformity. Some of the important provisions included in the bill are deductions for qualified tuition, employer paid adoption assistance and student loan interest. These deductions affect everyday taxpayers and make a real difference for many Minnesotans.

However, it’s still important to note that two key deductions will not be offered to Minnesota taxpayers when they file this year. The increased Standard Deduction for married joint filers and the increased Eligible Expense Limit for Dependent Care Credits will not be available to taxpayers this year. It is unfortunate that they were not included in the tax bill.

The final bill sent to Governor Dayton has $443 million in tax reductions and placed $150 million more in state reserves. After pressure from constituents, Democrat legislators are finally learning from their mistakes and remedying some of the problematic tax policies from their $2.1 billion tax hike of 2013.


Minnesota is projected to have a $1.2 billion surplus for fiscal years 2014-15, and the Minnesota Legislature is required to allocate this money. I believe that the taxpayers should be fully refunded; we should not be spending this money on more wasteful programs or locking it up in a vault in St. Paul. Some of that money went back to you today through the tax bill, but there is so much more to be done.

The DFL wants to keep your money and spend $510 million on new government programs with surplus funds. After increasing government spending by $6,000 for every family of four last year, they want to spend even more. This money does more good in your pocket instead of in the hands of politicians.

I will continue to fight for your interests in St. Paul. If I can ever be of assistance to you on a matter of state government, or if you have ideas on how to make Minnesota better, please don’t hesitate to contact me.