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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Jerry Hertaus (R)

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Legislative update from Rep. Jerry Hertaus

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Dear Friends,

Hello from the Capitol, where we are making progress on a great number of issues. Our top responsibility this session is to establish a new two-year state budget.

This session promises to be different with Republicans controlling both legislative bodies. This new dynamic will allow for more efficient passage of legislation without partisan gamesmanship holding back bills until the last week of session in the name of leverage.

For example, it took barely more than one week for $21.7 million in tax relief to reach enactment and is now law. The package brings state tax provisions into conformity with those of the federal government, allowing students, homeowners, families saving for college, teachers, and more to benefit this tax season.

Key provisions include:

  • Providing deductions for higher education expenses
  • Providing deductions for teacher classroom expenses up to $250
  • Excluding compensation from taxable income for those who were wrongfully incarcerated
  • Eliminating the need for two sets of depreciation schedules for those who purchase work equipment
  • Providing an itemized deduction for mortgage insurance premiums
  • Excluding from gross income loan forgiveness on home foreclosures
  • Allowing the tax paid on high-cost employer health care coverage to be claimed as an itemized deduction

It should be pointed out this is only a fraction of tax-relief proposals the House plans to offer this year. I will provide further information as plans take shape.

HEALTH INSURANCE RELIEF

The House this week continues advancing through the process a bill providing $300 million in relief for people who are facing skyrocketing health insurance rates.

It is crucial to get this relief into enactment as soon as possible to benefit Minnesotans that have suffered rate increases of 67 percent or even more this month. It also is imperative provisions in this bill are enacted to establish much-needed reform so Minnesotans are able to continue receiving life-saving treatments, and also so that we may begin the process of improving the individual insurance market.

REAL ID

The subject of Real ID has been an ongoing issue ever since the 9-11 attacks. The U.S. Congress raised ID standards in 2005 with the intent of stifling terrorism. The federal standards being implemented apply to a number of purposes, including boarding domestic flights. Minnesota’s current standard ID does not comply and the deadline to comply arrives in January of 2018.

A majority of U.S. states are currently compliant or in the process of becoming REAL ID compliant. Some states, including Minnesota, rejected this federal mandate with half of all state legislatures passing resolutions refusing federal compliance. Our Legislature last biennium passed a measure lifting the gag order on examining Real ID. Discussions in search of a solution have centered on determining the best way our state can meet new federal ID guidelines while also protecting citizens’ private data.

The plan which is advancing through the House provides a two-tier ID system. Minnesotans would be able to choose to either opt into or opt out of Real ID.

To be clear on some main points:

  • If you do not want a Real ID, you would not be required to get one.
  • The Real ID-compliant model we propose does not have an RFID chip in the card and no biometric data will be accumulated.
  • The information contained on the magnetic strip will be limited to the information that is printed on the card.
  • Those who decide to abstain could keep their current form of state ID, but would be wise to recognize that version has limitations, including insufficiency for the purposes of boarding a plane.
  • Those who do not partake in Real ID but would like to board a plane would need to acquire a passport or enhanced state ID, both of which include those RFID chips that cause security concerns for a number of people.

Another concern that has been raised is whether Real ID could be used as a firearm registry. That is not the case and gun-rights organizations are satisfied with the language we have drafted, including amendments prohibiting the use of Real ID for the purchase of ammunition or firearms.

The bottom line is Minnesotans deserve the peace of mind knowing they can fly to see a relative in another state, visit their child on a military base, or take their family on vacation with a Minnesota-issued identification card. Those who do not want to participate also deserve the option of abstaining. Our proposal accomplishes both.

Look for more news as these and other bills continue moving toward the governor’s desk for enactment.

Sincerely,

Rep. Jerry Hertaus

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