It is State Tournament time and with that comes the reasonable expectation of snow, milder temps, and eventually Spring. Hang in there; the tulips will be pushing up soon.
I've been staying busy over the past several weeks attending meetings with local officials and businesses, speaking with constituents, and preparing for what I hope will be a productive legislative session when we begin starting next week, February 25th. I'm eager to get to work for the residents of Todd and Morrison County, and look forward to updating you regularly on the issues we're tackling in St. Paul.
I wanted to highlight for you just a few of the big items to keep an eye out for during the 2014 session.
One of the top priorities for me and my fellow Republicans this session is undoing some of the harmful business-to-business taxes that were passed last session. With a surplus just north of $1 billion, the legislature will have some flexibility to alleviate the tax burden placed on Minnesota families by eliminating these tax increases.
While I hope to see all of the business-to-business taxes repealed, I hope at the very least to see the commercial equipment repair tax -- the tax that farmers and other business owners have to pay on repairs to commercial machinery -- and the telecom tax repealed. The telecom tax is especially burdensome for Greater Minnesota communities working to ensure the wide availability of broadband internet. This tax is a tax on innovation and discourages expansion. Quite simply, it's going to continue to hold us back as we try to bring broadband access to all corners of Minnesota.
In addition, there has been a lot of discussion about federal tax conformity. Currently, Minnesota families are taxed on a number of provisions because Minnesota's tax code does not align with the federal tax code. Those include taxes on employer-provided tuition and adoption assistance, foreclosure taxes, and more. I hope to see full federal conformity passed so those burdens are eliminated in time for families to file their taxes or amend their submitted tax returns.
Another issue sure to grab its fair share of headlines in 2014 is the bullying bill. I believe bullying is best combated on a local level by local school districts and teachers, and not by a one-size-fits-all mandate from the state. Teachers and parents are best equipped to make sure that no child feels bullied or unsafe when going to school, and to craft appropriate policies to prevent it. Moreover, school districts in our area have expressed concern over the unfunded mandate within the bill that passed the House last year that would require schools to hire additional staff to meet certain requirements from the state. I still believe this state mandate shows a lack of trust in our local administrators and teachers.
I am also working on solving the inequity in funding for long-term care. There is momentum to close the funding gap and I will continue to support and stand with our long-term care providers. Taking care of our "greatest generation" is just the right thing to do.
I also expect that a minimum wage increase, a bonding bill, medical marijuana, and gun issues will be on the agenda in 2014.
You can count on me to continue standing up for the priorities and best interests of our district and Greater Minnesota. I hope you will keep and touch and let me know what you think the legislature should be focused on, or what we can be doing better to make your life easier. Please don't hesitate to contact my office by calling 651-296-4247
or by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I'm continually grateful for the trust you've placed in me to be your Representative in St. Paul. Thank you for the continued privilege of serving our community, and I look forward to working hard for you in 2014.
All the best,