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Legislative Update (2-13-19)

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

 

Dear Neighbor,

Tim Walz has failed his first big test as Minnesota’s governor by challenging the Enbridge Line 3 replacement project in court.

The petition for reconsideration Walz announced Tuesday he is filing challenges the unanimous decision by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to grant the certificate of need for the pipeline.

It is concerning that, barely one month into office, Walz already has cuddled up with extreme environmentalists instead of doing what’s right for our state. Minnesotans want this project to be completed and the PUC gave it unanimous approval. Unfortunately, Walz has failed his first big test as governor and revealed to everyone that, even though he talked a big game, Twin Cities partisanship is winning out over statesmanship.

Just this week, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that safety officials are concerned by increased oil train traffic coming in from Canada. The article specifically cited “pipeline limbo” as a factor that is partially to blame for the increase in rail traffic.

This project is necessary for the public safety improvements, energy stability and economic benefits it would provide. Our new governor has just wasted a golden opportunity to bring better leadership to the Capitol compared with the outrageous partisanship we had under Dayton. I am confident common sense will prevail and the pipeline replacement will happen, but this certainly will add to the unnecessary delays that already have gone on far too long with Dayton, and now Walz, catering to metro environmentalists and stalling the work.

Look for more news from the Capitol soon. The Taxes Committee will conduct hearings on four Social Security tax relief bills on Thursday and I look forward to seeing what transpires. House Republicans made progress in the last biennium by putting an end to Minnesota’s status as one of very few states to fully tax Social Security. Because of this, nearly 284,000 senior citizen tax filers were estimated to receive tax reductions; 72,000 of those no longer pay state income tax on their social security benefits.

With a $1.5 billion surplus, this should be the year we finish the job and eliminate social security taxes entirely. That said, the Democrats continue to push for tax increases on gasoline and health care despite this surplus, so reducing taxes on seniors might be out of their scope.

-Steve

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