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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Ben Lien (DFL)

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Legislative Update - May 28, 2019

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Greetings from the Floor,

The Special Session convened Friday morning at 10:00 and adjourned Saturday morning just before 7:00 to wrap up budget bills for the Fiscal Years 2020/2021 biennium.  Here are the major provisions, and provisions of local interest, in each bill:

SF1: Agriculture, Housing and Rural Development Finance Bill

  • strengthens farmer mental health services
  • $5 million to help dairy farmers enroll in the federal Dairy Margin Coverage
  • $5 million to expand export markets for agriculture through the Minnesota Department of Agriculture
  • funds industrial hemp development at the Department of Agriculture
  • modifies statutes for manufactured home parks
  • appropriates $40.5 million for Broadband Development Grants

SF 3: Legacy Finance Bill

  • $128 million from the Outdoor Heritage Fund
  • $261 million from the Clean Water Fund
  • $102 million from the Parks and Trails Fund
  • $140 million from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund
  • These dollars come from the 3/8 cent sales tax voters approved in 2008.  The funded Outdoor Heritage, Clean Water, and Parks and Trails projects are recommended by citizen groups, while the Arts and Cultural Heritage projects are awarded through grants by the State Arts Board and the Minnesota Historical Society.

HF6: Transportation Finance Bill

  • $56.7 million for a MNLARS replacement packaged software system
  • $13 million reimbursement for deputy registrars
  • $50 million for Corridors of Commerce
  • $2.1 million for local roads (County State Aid Highways and Municipal State Aid Streets)
  • $1 million for Safe Routes to Schools

SF7: Environment and Natural Resources Finance Bill

  • $6.8 million to address Chronic Wasting Disease through the Department of Natural Resources and Board of Animal Health
  • $3.9 million to address Aquatic Invasive Species
    • $10.60 surcharge fee on water craft licensing to generate $1.76 million for grants to lake associations, and a $2.2 million appropriation to the University of Minnesota for research
  • $1 million to address emerald Ash Borer
  • reduces regulations on requirements for remote sugar beet storage

HF5: Tax Bill

  • state income tax conformity with the federal tax code
    • moves to Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) as the basis for state income taxes
    • section 179 expensing up to $1 million (retains Minnesota 80% addback)
    • bonus depreciation (retains Minnesota 80% addback)
    • increases standard deduction for individual income taxes
    • retains itemized deductions for individual income taxes
      • up to $10,000 for local taxes
      • increases the charitable contribution limit from 50% to 60% of AGI
      • medical expenses over 10% of AGI
      • unreimbursed employee expenses over 2%
      • casualty and theft losses
  • $833 million in revenue raised through tax conformity
  • $833 million in tax cuts
    • reduces the 2nd tier income tax bracket rate from 7.05% to 6.8%
    • reduces the state general property tax levy on commercial/industrial and seasonal/recreational properties by $50 million
    • expands the Working Family Credit
    • increases the Social Security Income tax subtraction
  • increases Local Government Aid and County Program Aid by $26 million each in Fiscal Year 2021 (bumps up to $30 million for each program in Fiscal Year 2022 and beyond)
  • increases the agricultural property tax credit on school building bonds to 50% in Fiscal Year 2021 and 70% in the Fiscal Year 2022-2023 biennium
  • repeals the provider tax sunset and cuts the tax from 2% to 1.8% and beyond
  • makes the Border City Enterprise and Development Zone funding permanent at $750,000 per year staring in Fiscal Year 2021

SF8: Public Safety and Judiciary Finance Bill

  • funds the state courts
  • $6 million for public defenders
  • $8 million for Guardian ad Litem
  • $7.6 million for correctional officers
  • establishes the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Task Force
  • adds one judge in the 7th Judicial District, which serves Clay County

HF2: Economic Development and Energy Finance Bill

  • provisions to prevent wage theft
  • $7 million for Vocational Rehabilitation Services
  • $750,000 for child care community grants
  • $750,000 to the Initiative Foundations to support child care training
  • $3 million to help dairy farmers enroll in the federal Dairy Margin Coverage
  • base funding for the Minnesota Investment Fund and a 4% cut to the Job Creation Fund
  • technical changes to workers’ compensation laws
  • expands Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) loan to new commercial construction

HF10: Pensions Bill

  • technical changes to state pension laws

SF12: Health and Human Services Finance Bill

  • continues health insurance reinsurance program for two years
  • increases the Minnesota Family Investment Program by $100 a month
  • reduces family costs for TEFRA
  • expands school-linked mental health
  • modifies the medical cannabis program
  • mental health parity
  • allows non-profit nursing homes in Moorhead and Breckenridge to apply to the Department of Human Services for a rate increase that matches reimbursements in North Dakota (if the North Dakota reimbursements are higher)

HF1: E-12 Education Finance Bill

  • 2% general education formula increase in each Fiscal Year 2021 and 2022
  • $90.7 million for special education
  • extends Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten through the next biennium
  • $4.5 million for early learning scholarships
  • increases dyslexia screenings in public schools for students, and requires public school teacher preparation programs to include instruction on dyslexia
  • allows non-public school pupils in 10th grade to enroll in career and technical Postsecondary Enrollment Option (PSEO) courses

SF10: State Government Finance Bill

  • allows the secretary of state to use $6.6 million in federal money for election security through the Help America Vote Act
  • funds the Legislature, constitutional offices and various state agencies (Department of Military Affairs, Department of Revenue, Department of Administration, MN.IT [the state’s information technology agency], Minnesota Management and Budget, etc.)
  • $1.6 million to administer the 2020 census
  • $10 million for state cyber security
  • $250,000 for the Safe at Home program to protect victims of domestic violence

HF12: Housing Appropriation Bonds

  • authorizes $60 million in Housing Appropriation Bonds

HF13: Revisor’s Bill

  • the Revisor’s Bill is passed every year to correct technical errors in bills passed during the previous session

I’m very pleased that the Special Session ended with a complete state budget.  I don’t appreciate that, once again, we had to go into overtime to finish the job.  In three of my four terms, we needed a Special Session to finish work on the state budget.  There are steps we can take to change the overall process, and it will require both legislative bodies and the governor’s office to implement these changes.  I do credit Speaker Hortman for setting an ambitious schedule in late April and early May to get the budget bills off the House floor and into conference committees with the Senate.  This year, the issue was that global budget target agreements between the legislative leaders and governor for conference committees came about very late during the regular session.  The agreements were made with about 29 ½ hours left in the regular session.  This was not nearly enough time for conference committees to finish work on the final bills, and for staff to produce the actual bill documents.  One positive change this year was that House Committees held informational hearings on the proposals that became the final budget bills before the Special Session began.  This allowed members to review the proposals, ask questions and hear public testimony.  Other reforms could be hard deadlines for global budget targets, mandatory hearings before bills are brought to the House and Senate floors and public postings of conference committee bill proposals before the Legislature votes on them.

The biggest takeaways for our district are the permanent funding for the Border City Enterprise and Development Zone, the non-profit nursing home provision in the Health and Human Services Finance Bill and the addition of a judge for our Judicial District.  The permanent border city program appropriations and non-profit nursing home provision are bills I’ve introduced every term.  These are great wins for Moorhead!


Thank You for the Opportunity to Serve,


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