I hope that you are looking forward to the coming Easter/Passover break. Hints of Spring are evident and this is also the time many people are able to take in some special family time. I sincerely hope the break brings some renewed spirit and fresh perspective.
I am around the District all week and have been visiting nursing homes, businesses, and having constituent meetings. If you have an issue, or would like to share a cup of coffee, just call me at 320 761 6133. Time spent in thoughtful discussion is never wasted.
Here are the updates from St. Paul.
DFL leaders in the House and Senate released their budget targets this week. These targets serve are the next step in the process as we continue crafting the 2014-2015 biennium budget. The proposed spending total is at least $39.3 billion, including at least $2.4 billion in new taxes, with a “temporary” income tax added for top earners.
This is on top of the income tax hike the governor is seeking and it would give Minnesota one of the highest tax rates in the nation. We expect their budget bills to pass through the House floor by the end of April. I will be sure to keep you updated as the budget process continues.
Gun Bill Moving Through Committee
On Wednesday, the House Public Safety Finance Committee did not end up taking a scheduled vote on legislation that would have required universal background checks on nearly all gun sales in Minnesota because it lacked the necessary support to advance in committee.
Later in the week, an amendment was added to an existing bill that would force background checks on citizens who buy weapons at gun shows – this amendment by far has generated the most opposition in phone calls and email. It remains to be seen whether or not that proposal will have the votes to pass if or when the bill comes to the floor. I have, and will continue to defend the second amendment rights.
I am a co-author on a bipartisan bill supported by Democrats, Republicans, and law enforcement leaders that makes important changes that make it more difficult for violent felons and criminals to purchase guns, and improves data sharing between federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. This bill has enough to votes to pass in its current form, and I'm hopeful we will see it come to the floor before the end of session.
Introducing and sharing the legislative process is the greatest delight of the job--after all, this is the people's seat. Last week, I was able to spend the day with Ray Stumpf from Little Falls. He is a retired Navy Veteran, stellar teacher in Little Falls, and 100% committed to doing the best he can for people and our society.
Watching him give of himself to the students and community is inspiring. Oh, and Ray is dying of cancer and everyday he stays alive is one more day he beat the odds. I could not be more proud of what I do than to introduce Ray to the Caucus and to escort him to the House floor. We spent the day in committee and he kept sending me questions and ideas--Ray, you're the man!
2013 Legislative Survey
As a reminder, you can take my 2013 legislative survey online by clicking here. I have enjoyed reading your responses thus far, and thank those of you who have taken the time to share your thoughts with me.
Have a great weekend,
State Representative, District 09B