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Legislative Update (7-13-20)

Monday, July 13, 2020

Neighbor,

Most of the news these days, legislatively and otherwise, centers on COVID-19. Behind the scenes, we still must address other issues.

One of these issues is the reduction of privately-owned land in Minnesota and a push that is underway which could cause numerous counties in northern Minnesota to lose tens of thousands of acres to non-taxable entities – leaving local taxpayers to bear an even larger share of the burden.

The land is to be purchased by the Conservation Fund. Funding for this comes from different sources, including Minnesota taxpayer dollars.

This move would once again be damaging to local governments’ ability to provide services without raising property taxes on remaining citizens. Increased property taxes impact us in ways you may not be aware of, far beyond your personal tax liability. Businesses we shop at could have to raise prices, landlords could have to raise rent – the list goes on.

Property taxes are especially burdensome on seniors and lower-income folks. Northern Minnesota already has a problem with a high number of tax-forfeited properties. Here is a list of the acreage I received showing the acreage some counties would see taken off the tax roll, only making those problems worse:

  • St. Louis, 22,800
  • Koochiching, 21,000
  • Hubbard, 12,100
  • Crow Wing, 9,200
  • Cass, 9,200
  • Wadena, 4,900
  • Itasca, 4,700
  • Aitkin, 1,360

As for legislative news, a special session is starting today, largely so the governor can extend his emergency powers for yet another 30 days. This would bring us to five full months under the governor’s unilateral rule. While we have the opportunity to end his powers today and restore the balance of power at the Capitol, the House majority has given no indication it is willing to put an end to his authoritarian status. I will be back with more on the special session as things unfold.

-Steve

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