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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Mike Sundin (DFL)

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Legislative Update - March 23, 2018

Friday, March 23, 2018

Dear Neighbors,

This week, the first of several committee deadlines passed and the Easter holiday is right around the corner. Here’s an update from the Capitol:

Mack Sundin’s recent Pentagon Award

Recently I visited D.C. to attend a ceremony at the Pentagon honoring my son, Chief Master Sergeant Mack Sundin. Mack had the honor of receiving a meritorious service award upon completion of two and a half years service at the Pentagon as a legislative liaison in DC. You can see Mack receiving the award below. It was a proud moment!

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School Safety Bill

In light of recent school shootings and violence, I’ve authored HF 3545 which would require charter schools and school districts to adopt a child safety curriculum. Schools or school districts would be required to collaborate with local law enforcement or independent self-defense experts to deliver the curriculum using videos and role-play demonstrations. Topics addressed in the curriculum include understanding stranger dangers, skills for preventing attacks, external warning signs, and how to gain assistance from law enforcement. This bill builds on the proposals in Governor Dayton’s Safe and Secure School’s Act, and it is also in response to the contact I’ve received from local school officials. Earlier this month I received a letter from a school board member in a local district calling for action to prevent these tragic events in our schools. That local school board member didn’t have faith that anything would happen at the federal level, and asked for more to be done to protect students, including expanding criminal background checks to gun shows and online sales. I appreciate your input on the issue.

Tax Changes

I’m pleased to report a bill I’ve been working on to help protect the budgets of rural counties from the costs of lawsuits is moving through the process. HF 2971 would ensure that if counties have to pay back the cost of property tax revenue that results from the state’s value assessments that the responsibility lies with the state, not the counties. The origins of this bill are the pending lawsuit between Enbridge Energy and several counties from Carlton all the way to the North Dakota/Canada border. Because of the changes made at the Minnesota Department of Revenue, the value assessment of pipeline properties increased, and if the court sides with Enbridge and agrees that the values should be recalculated, it could leave rural counties with a big tax bill that would cut into their ability to provide essential services. We have to work together to make sure that doesn’t happen. Another bill I authored, HF 3086, would allow the City of Cloquet to use revenues from local sales taxes to help pay for several local projects.

Cloquet Fire and Other Local Bonding Projects

There are several bonding projects I’ve been working on for our region. One is HF 2874, a bill that would use state bonds to fund a $13.7 million grant to the Cloquet Area Fire District for a new fire station. I’ve also been receiving contact from folks reaching out about making sure that state is making strong investments to keep our drinking water safe, whether you get it from a city, a well, or a regional system. I authored HF 2878 to start addressing some of the drinking water issues we face in our region. It would authorize bonds to help fund up to $12 million in improvements to drinking water infrastructure in the city of Carlton and Twin Lakes Township. I’ve also authored a bonding proposal that would underwrite the 'beginning farmer tax credit' using $35 million in state bonds. HF 3050 would ensure we're providing strong support to beginning farmers during this uncertain time in the agriculture economy.

MNLARS Update

Thursday, the Minnesota House and Senate approved a Conference Committee bill to transfer funds from an existing Driver and Vehicle Services account to support essential improvements to the Minnesota License and Registration System (MNLARS). Minnesota IT (Information Technology) Services and the Department of Public Safety will now have the resources and support they need to retain top talent and make urgently-needed improvements to MNLARS for the next several months. Governor Dayton signed the changes into law immediately.

Governor Dayton’s Supplemental Budget & State of the State
The current two-year state budget was set in 2017, but it is subject to adjustment and supplementation during this legislative session. Late last week, Governor Dayton released his supplemental budget plan. He focuses on increasing tax fairness for individuals, expanding access to affordable health care, education, leaving a fair and balanced state budget, and improving incomes and economic opportunities for all Minnesotans.

A few days earlier, the Governor gave his final State of the State address. During the Governor’s eight years alone in office, we’ve gone from deficits to surpluses - from borrowing money from our schools to investing in record-breaking amounts - all of which has cemented Minnesota’s status as the best state in the country. When we invest in each other, our values, and our state as a whole, we all benefit.

#1 Best Run State

USA Today

#1 Best State to Retire

AARP

#1 Best State for Women

Wallet Hub

#2 Best State for Families

Wallet Hub

#2 Strongest State

POLITICO

#2 Best State Overall

U.S. News & World Report

#3 Best State for Business

CNBC

#4 America’s Goals for 2030 State Report Card

Future Now

Keep in Touch!

Feel free to respond to this email to let me know what you’d like to see done this session. As your voice at the Capitol, my top priority is to make sure that the people in our region have a chance to succeed. That means everyone has access to a quality education, a job that rewards hard work with fair pay, and a secure retirement.

Sincerely,

Mike Sundin

State Representative

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