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

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Legislative Update - February 21, 2020

Friday, February 21, 2020

Rep. Lien

Greetings from the Floor,


It was another slow week for floor sessions, but committees got busy in earnest.  The Higher Ed. Committee heard Capital Investment proposals from the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota State system.  The U is requesting $317.2 million for Capital Investment renovation and repair projects across the state, while the Minnesota State system is requesting $271.2 million for infrastructure work on its campuses.  These numbers compare to Gov. Walz’s Capital Investment proposals of $224.2 million and $263.6 million for the U and Minnesota State system, respectively (including $17.29 million for renovations of Weld Hall on the Minnesota State University Moorhead campus).

The committee also heard the Minnesota State system’s supplemental budget request of $39.7 million for campus support and tuition relief, and $14.5 million to continue work upgrading its systemwide IT network. 

The Tax Committee heard presentations from Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB), and the State Auditor on program evaluations.  MMB highlighted its online, evidence-based tool to evaluate public policy effectiveness.  Dubbed “Results First”, this online tool allows anyone to review certain programs of the state.  Currently, the policies of K-12 education, public safety and health and human services are on the website, and the goal is to eventually feature programs that impact all state agencies.  For more information, please go to:


The State Auditor presented on the local government Performance Measurement Program.  This is a voluntary program whereby local governments receive a small compensation (mainly for staff time) and levy limit exemptions to participate.  The State Auditor’s office then works with local governments to evaluate the delivery and performance of services such as public safety, water and sewer systems, street maintenance, social services, and amenities like parks and libraries.


I introduced four bills this week.  They are:

  • HF3546: to establish a 1/2 cent sales tax in Moorhead for a regional community aquatics center, a regional city hall and library complex, regional transportation improvements, a regional inclusive playground, and a regional trail system
  • HF3564: mandates all new and used auto dealers to notify customers of factory recalls (whether the work has been done or not)
  • HF3565: $9.5 million for a regional and community aquatics center through General Obligation bonds
  • HF3566: $57.555 million for the 11th Street underpass through General Obligation Bonds


I want to make one final note that the Department of Revenue offers free, online tax filing to certain taxpayers.  About 62% of Minnesotans are eligible for the free filing, yet over 780,000 didn’t take advantage last year.  For more information, please go to: (an informational YouTube video is also available at:


Thank You for the Opportunity to Serve,



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