Greetings from the Capitol, where the 2015 session is underway and we are working to make improvements in areas such as education, transportation and taxing/spending.
There were approximately 180 bills introduced the first week or so of the session. They address the aforementioned priorities and more. I will provide more details on headline proposals and issues in future letters.
Floor sessions have been relatively brief to start because the focus has been on committee work, which is necessary before bills can come before the full House for a vote. One important thing we did on the floor this week was to fast-track a bill which helps Minnesotans file their taxes in a timely, efficient manner by matching state code with federal changes made since 2013. This added simplicity means less time spent by tax preparers – professional and citizens alike – to save taxpayers money and help them file more quickly.
In total, this bill provides $19.9 million in immediate tax relief to hardworking Minnesotans for the recently concluded tax year, including:
Higher education tuition deduction ($2.1 million in fiscal year 2015; about 9,000 returns; $70 average tax decrease)
Educator classroom expenses deduction ($1.2 million in fiscal year 2015; about 60,000 returns, $20 average tax decrease)
Mortgage insurance premiums deduction ($4.6 million in fiscal year 2015; about 60,000 returns; $75 average tax decrease)
More work remains in this area, especially regarding Minnesota’s estate tax which, unfortunately, remains more punitive than the federal model.
I am serving upon four House committees this biennium. They pertain to education finance, property taxes, public safety, and mining/outdoors recreation.
I will continue providing my perspective on the latest developments in St. Paul, but there are a number of other avenues available for citizens to follow the Legislature. Below are some links I hope you find helpful:
Here are some I hope you find helpful:
-Information about the legislative process and the Minnesota House of Representatives in general.
-A nonpartisan publication of Minnesota House of Representatives Public Information Services which provides hard news from the Capitol.
-Compiled by the Minnesota House of Representatives Public Information Services.
-Coverage is broadcast statewide – along with Minnesota Senate television coverage – on your local PBS station’s digital Minnesota Channel.
-Your Legislators is a live one-hour program which runs 8 p.m. Thursdays on public TV. The weekly panels typically include a mix of two Republicans and two Democrats joining moderator Barry Anderson. Viewers are able to submit questions during the show. The link above provides more information, including channel listings.
-Live Internet video streaming of all television productions, plus additional coverage not provided on the broadcast channel, including evening, weekend and interim coverage.
-A 16-page booklet explaining, in a simple, straightforward manner, how a bill moves from an idea to law. Capitol Steps is intended as a resource for junior high school students.
It is a great honor to continue representing citizens in our area and I welcome correspondence throughout the 2015 session and beyond. You can call (651) 296-9188 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to provide input or set up an appointment to meet at my Capitol office.
State Representative, District 33A