Last week I was honored to receive the 2019 “Champion of the Industry” award from the Builders Association of Minnesota. I want to thank the association for the award and Keith Kylmala for being kind enough to host us at Kylmala Truss in Saginaw and for a tour of the facility. I look forward to our continued work together to create affordable housing, grow our economy, and encourage more Minnesotans to enter meaningful, good-paying careers in the construction trades.
The skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs is forcing too many people to make impossible decisions, like choosing between groceries and medications. As pharmaceutical companies rake in billions of profits every year, prices continue to skyrocket and Minnesotans are feeling the squeeze. One of the most prominent examples of price gouging we’ve seen in the news is insulin, a drug that diabetics need to stay alive; it’s as important as water and air.
Speaker of the House Melissa Hortman and Governor Tim Walz co-authored a Star Tribune op-ed about our solution to create a program for emergency access and long-term affordability. As they continue to profit, it’s time to hold Big Pharma accountable and make them share in the cost of a solution. My fellow DFLers and I are committed to reaching a solution on this problem impacting too many lives, but it will take a bipartisan consensus to make this happen.
The Trump tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy have exploded income inequality. Republicans promised they would pay for themselves, but in reality, the federal budget deficit has skyrocketed and there are now fewer resources to invest in our local communities, including federal funding for transportation, health care, and public safety.
Minnesotans are asking the Legislature to improve our tax system by closing corporate loopholes and leveling the playing field for senior citizens, working families, farmers, and small businesses. We made progress in 2019, but there is more work to do in 2020 and beyond to deliver the resources needed for honest investments in schools, health care, and safe and inclusive communities.
As Minnesotans begin filing state and federal tax returns, the Minnesota Department of Revenue is offering information about free tax preparation, free electronic filing, tax preparation sites in your area, and tracking of your refund status. You might qualify for free tax preparation for your returns through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and AARP Tax-Aide programs and sites are available in Cloquet, Moose Lake, Proctor and Duluth. Click here for a complete list of sites including hours and other requirements.
The Department of Revenue also has a handy Where’s My Refund? system, which allows you to track the status of your state refund and whether you need to take any action.
Lastly, don’t forget to file for your Property Tax Refund, which is due August 15. This past legislative session, the DFL-led House approved a measure to expand funding for both the Homestead Credit Refund and the Renter’s Credit, but unfortunately the GOP-led Senate didn’t agree. I’ll keep working to increase funding for this program which especially benefits seniors and young families.
I’ve heard from many folks with questions about Real ID and the upcoming enforcement deadline of Oct. 1, 2020. After that date, you’ll need a Real ID-compliant driver’s license or ID card, enhanced driver’s license, or a passport to board an airplane or enter certain federal facilities. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety has some resources here to help you get prepared. An infographic showing common examples of Real ID required documents is available here.? There’s also a fact sheet and brochure which serve as quick guides to help decide if a Real ID-compliant driver’s license or identification card is right for you.
The best way to make sure you have everything you need before you visit a driver’s license office is to pre-apply online at www.drive.mn.gov. This feature allows Minnesotans to enter a much their application online, reducing the time they spend in the office. It also lists the required documents for each license type so you can have all necessary documents ready.
If you have questions or concerns about the status of your license or ID card you can contact the Department of Vehicle Services by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 651-297-3298. Include your full name and date of birth with your question in the email. If you’re still running into problems, feel free to let me know and I will do what I can to assist.
The 2020 Legislative Session gets underway tomorrow. Please feel free to contact me with your input and feedback. My phone number at the Capitol is 651-296-4308 and email is email@example.com. It’s an honor to represent you.