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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Tama Theis (R)

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Capitol Update from Rep. Tama Theis

Friday, April 29, 2016

Dear Neighbors,

This week at the Capitol, the House passed supplemental budget and policy bills that have a net zero spending increase. The money spent in the bills comes from reallocating some unspent dollars from previous years, finding cost savings and ways to better utilize tax dollars. I would still like to see the $900 million surplus go toward tax relief and a transportation bill this session.

The supplemental omnibus bills passed this week will be the House position going into negotiations with the Senate and governor. The provisions in the bills do a number of great things for families, aging adults, veterans and students in our community and across the state, and I hope they will become law.

Here are some of the highlights and key takeaways from the legislation passed in the House this week.

Education/Higher Education

On Monday, the House passed a bipartisan supplemental education bill that re-invests $56 million of cost savings in programs that aim to improve student achievement, address the needs of educators in our schools and provide every child with a world-class education. The bill also helps rein in the cost of a higher education for students and increases post-secondary opportunities for Minnesotans with disabilities.

I authored a provision in this legislation that provides grants for the Sanneh Foundation to help close the achievement gap by providing programs for youth membership, behavior support, tutoring and support programs for students of color. This program will help at-risk kids right here in Central Minnesota, and I am pleased it was included in the bill.

Here are some of the other key provisions in the education bill:

  • Uses the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments as an indicator to measure college readiness, helping to save students money on remedial college courses
  • Provides fixes to our broken teacher licensure system
  • Reduces the funding disparity between metro and non-metro school districts
  • Increases opportunities to expand the diversity of our teacher workforce
  • Protects educators and school staff, addressing immediate needs of educators and working toward long-term solutions to end violence in our classrooms
  • Expands higher education opportunities for students with developmental and intellectual disabilities
  • Implements innovative programs to help close the achievement gap


On Wednesday, the House passed the Jobs, Agriculture and Environment supplemental budget bill that focus on the basic needs of every day Minnesotans from clean water to addressing economic disparities.

Here are some of the key provisions in the bill:

  • Provides $40 million for broadband internet expansion for unserved and underserved areas of our state
  • Reprioritizes unspent money from the avian flu emergency response and uses those dollars for livestock disease prevention and a farm safety pilot program
  • Provides for targeted workforce housing in Greater Minnesota

Health and Human Services/State Government Finance/Public Safety

On Thursday, the House passed legislation that looks out for taxpayers and Minnesota families. From working to fix the burdensome problems folks have experienced with MNsure, to helping parents save money on child care, an important issue that I have been working on this session, our legislation is about doing what's best for folks across the state.

There are several provisions in the bill that I spearheaded as well. I authored an amendment to the bill that would end taxpayer funded abortions, an important issue for Minnesota taxpayers who support life. I also worked on a funeral home bill to help small town funeral homes without preparation rooms stay open. Additionally, a provision to increase child care reimbursements for cities located in more than one county like St. Cloud is part of this legislation. Finally, I authored a provision to appropriate $40,000 for a grant to study the potential cost savings and health benefits for aging adults who use assistive technology to help them remain safely in their homes.

Here are some of the other key provisions in the bill:

  • Transitions MNsure to the federal exchange, and makes several key reforms including limiting the state's ability to make future estate claims, cutting the premium tax in half to reduce health care costs and establishing performance benchmarks for our health care exchange
  • Captures waste, fraud and abuse in public programs and directs that money to increase rates for long-term and community-based caregivers
  • Cuts pay for political appointees and politicians by 5 percent
  • Repeals child care unionization authority and creates reforms to address child care affordability for working parents
  • Eliminates non-essential travel for state employees
  • Implements a state government hiring freeze for Fiscal Year 2017
  • Includes multiple provisions for Minnesota veterans including security improvements to National Guard facilities and veteran rent subsidies

High School Page Program

This session, it has been wonderful to see high school juniors from Central Minnesota come down to the Capitol to page, learning more about state government and the legislative process. I would love to see even more people from our community participate in this program next year, as I believe the experience to be fun, educational and great for resumes and college applications.

I encourage eligible students from our community to sign up in the fall. You can learn more about the program here.


It’s an honor to be your voice at the Capitol.