Dear Friends & Neighbors,
The Monday night deadline for Gov. Mark Dayton to sign the much-covered news story, the 2016 Omnibus Tax Bill, has passed the final hour in which it could have become law. By not acting on the legislation, the governor has chosen to invoke a veto known as a “pocket veto” resulting from inaction either way during the 14 days following its passage by both the House and Senate.
During the past several days, legislators from both sides of aisles have received numerous correspondences from their constituents concerning the unfortunate end of the 2016 session. I would like to share a few of those messages that I have received from your neighbors which reflects bi-partisan frustrations about both the session process and the product.
“So what happens now? Our Gov has decided to play state emperor. He is more important than a vast majority of the people's elected reps. What is the next step to returning good order to our state? How does this common sense/people first legislation get put in place? And how will this Gov be made accountable for this egregious act of extremist politics?” – Dennis
“Do YOUR job and stop whining about the Governor. If the House & Senate had done its proper work on time, we would not have this Special Session issue. It is the legislative GOP that caused the problem.” – Paul
“I don't mind paying taxes, but I saw this graphic today and thought maybe we are a bit too high: Can we reach parity with California, at a minimum?” – Mike
** Above graphic provided by constituent
“Put another way... 91.7% of the House (123-10) and 82% of the Senate (55-12) voted for the Conference Committee Report on the Tax Bill. That's bi-partisan; and that's called "compromise". These numbers prove how out-of-touch the governor really is.” – Jim
The governor has pointed out from the advice of his staff that the tax bill contained a drafting error which would have resulted in a cost to the state of approximately $100 million in application of a conjunctive word in the text of the bill from “or” to “and” as it related to a charitable gambling provision contained within the bill.
Drafting errors occur frequently during the legislative process. With more than 4,000 bills introduced during the biennium containing tens of thousands of pages of legislative language, errors are inevitable. They occur every legislative session and by both parties. The text of the language of any bill is drafted by non-partisan staff on behalf of the legislator who chief-authors the bill. When these minor drafting errors in text (and consequence) occur and are discovered, “Letters of Legislative Intent” are signed by both parties and the respective committee Chairs and issued to the Commissioner in order to enable him or her to enforce the legislation as the legislature intended. When errors are detected, the Revisor’s Office includes all amended language for all bills incorporating technical changes into them into official legislation called the “Revisor’s Bill” which is passed by the following legislative session as a matter of course and with non-controversy.
The governor has had “Letters of Legislative Intent” issued in previous years while serving in his capacity and claiming that this minor error cannot be resolved other than by a legislative “Special Session” in misleading based upon past precedent. The Governor in a previous news conference had emphatically stated that he would sign the tax bill and would not in his own words “hold hostage” the bill for a special session. Click here for that video.
The governor has indicated that he may be willing to call a special session towards the end of the month, but in addition to taking care unfinished business, he has put forth 17 conditions, all of which are additional spending, totaling approximately $430 million. It is most ironic that the governor would claim concern over a drafting error in the tax bill potentially costing $100 million, but conditions fixing that problem by spending $430 million more!
The bipartisan tax bill (House 123-10 and Senate 55-12) would have provided nearly $800 million of reduced future taxes (not refunds) over the next three years to hard working Minnesota families in the form of tax credits for college education, 529 plans, teacher education tax credits, veterans tax credits, federal conformity to certain tax laws, property tax relief to farmers and small businesses and much more.
I will provide additional updates as negotiations unfold whether or not there will be a special session.
Rep. Jerry Hertaus
House District 33A