Things are still up in the air on a number of important issues as we work our way through the final few days of the legislative session. Here’s a recap of this week so far in the House:
On Monday, the House passed legislation I co-authored to authorize the construction of the Line 3 Replacement Pipeline in northern Minnesota. The bill (H.F. 3759) would grant a certificate of need and route approval for the project and now is in the hands of Gov. Mark Dayton for enactment.
The pipeline was ordered to be replaced during the Obama Administration, and has been vetted extensively through our state’s regulatory process. This project is so long overdue that I wish we could start on it today, but passing this bill in the House is progress. It’s disappointing that environmentalists from the metro keep stalling and continue trying to deny our region the boost in jobs and tax revenue we sorely need. Today’s technology allows us to complete this pipeline work without sacrificing our environment, so I urge the governor to sign this bill so we can put an end to the delays and keep moving forward.
Unfortunately, the governor has vetoed the bipartisan tax bill that would simplify Minnesota’s tax code and provide additional tax relief to middle-class Minnesotans. The legislation also delivers the first income tax rate cut for Minnesotans in nearly two decades by reducing the second tier income tax rate. This was a good bill and it is highly disappointing the governor would put nearly 970,000 Minnesota filers in jeopardy of paying higher taxes. It’s now back to the drawing board in order to see if we can reach agreement in the final few days of the session.
It also is extremely disappointing the governor vetoed a bill simply requiring doctors to offer pregnant women an opportunity to view an ultrasound before having an abortion.
The biggest news from the House floor today is that we approved a bill which would allow us to build on the historic transportation investments made in the 2017 budget session by asking voters whether the state should constitutionally dedicate existing sales tax revenue from auto parts to fund statewide road and bridge construction.
The bottom line is Minnesota already has enough tax dollars to fund road improvements without raising taxes as long as we make it the priority we all agree it is. Transportation makes up less than 1 percent of the state General Fund budget and this would allow us to make sure tax dollars already paid when we buy spark plugs, etc., are used to support roads and bridges.
We expect legislative work to run through the weekend as we look to find agreement on numerous bills before Monday’s date for adjournment. I will pass along more as things develop at the Capitol.