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

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Capitol Update from Rep. Tama Theis

Thursday, May 26, 2016

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With Tony Sanneh from the Sanneh Foundation.

Dear Neighbors,

The 2016 legislative session came to an end of Sunday evening with some positive outcomes for the people of Central Minnesota, but a number of issues left unresolved too.

By far the biggest win for folks across the state was the substantial bipartisan tax relief that we sent to the governor's desk. Middle-class families, veterans, farmers, college graduates and businesses will see more than $800 million in tax relief over the next three years including more than half a billion in permanent and ongoing allocations.  

Highlights of tax provisions passed this year include:

  • Exemption for military retirement pay from state income tax which will help more than18,000 Minnesota veterans
  • Agriculture property tax relief for farmers
  • A first of its kind refundable tax credit of up to $1,000 for college graduates paying off student loans
  • Tax relief for families contributing to a 529 Savings Plan to save for college costs
  • Property tax relief for rural businesses, allowing every small business statewide to exempt the first $100,000 of commercial-industrial property
  • Expansion of the childcare tax credit which would help families earn up to $960 a year
  • An increased income eligibility threshold and increased total credit for veterans
  • $10 million for the Angel Investor Tax Credit
  • Tax credits for parents who give birth to a stillborn child

As part of the compromise for tax relief, the legislature also passed a supplemental budget bill that includes additional funding for state agencies, as well as a number of provisions that will benefit people in the St. Cloud area. Important provisions include additional funding for School District 742 to help at-risk and underperforming kids through the Tony Sanneh Foundation, as well as money for a pilot program for low-income and English language learner students. There is also additional funding for the St. Cloud Human Rights Office and provision for local funeral homes. A provision I authored to allow SCSU to sell beer at home hockey games is in that bill too.

While tax relief and local provisions for Central Minnesota are awaiting Governor Dayton's approval, transportation and bonding unfortunately stalled in the Senate. House Republicans thought they had reached an agreement on a transportation and bonding bill with the Senate, and passed it off the House Floor on a bipartisan vote 91-39. A handful of Senators then tried to amend a provision for Southwest Light Rail onto the bill at the last minute and time expired.

The transportation bonding bill we passed in the House had over $700 million in funding for road and bridge projects across the state, as well as funding for a study at the St. Cloud Regional Airport, $19 million for the new intake health services and loading dock at the St. Cloud Correctional Facility and $18.5 million for SCSU renovations. These were important projects for our community, and I am disappointed they were blocked for a boondoggle light rail project that costs $123 million per mile to build.

House Republican leadership has called upon Governor Dayton to call a one day special session so we can pass the transportation bill that stalled in the Senate. I will keep you updated on the latest should a special session be scheduled.


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