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

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Capitol Update from Rep. Tama Theis

Friday, March 31, 2017

Dear Neighbors,

Here is an update from Saint Paul.

Budgets, Tax Relief and Transportation

House Republicans recently unveiled our budget targets which House finance committees used to craft omnibus budget bills. Our goal is to budget “The Minnesota Way,” and just like families do with their own budgets, we looked to focus on funding our shared needs and priorities responsibly.

Our first priority was providing meaningful, middle-class tax relief, and the House passed its $1.35 billion tax relief package on Thursday. There are a number of key provisions in the bill that puts money back in the pockets of families, seniors, farmers and hometown businesses in Central Minnesota.

For retired Minnesotans living on a fixed income, our tax bill reduces the state tax on Social Security by increasing the limit on taxable income. Additionally, to address college affordability, we are expanding subtractions and credits for families saving for college with a 529 Savings Plan, as well as creating a first-in-the-nation tax credit for student loan payments. For families with childcare expenses, we are expanding the dependent care credit. Finally, we are empowering local businesses to expand and hire by reducing the extra state property tax on businesses.

After a veto of an overwhelmingly bipartisan tax bill last year, House Republicans are once again fighting for meaningful, middle-class tax relief. You can catch a video of me talking about tax relief in the Capitol here. I will keep you updated.

In addition to the tax bill, the Minnesota Road and Bridge Act is also moving forward in the House this week. The plan in total will invest $6 billion in our transportation infrastructure over the next 10 years—all without a harmful gas tax increase.

Key highlights in our transportation plan include $300 million in one-time Corridors of Commerce Funding; $25 million to continue the small cities funding program for local road projects in communities with fewer than 5,000 residents; and $450 million in new funding for roads and bridges by redirecting transportation-related taxes that we already collect like taxes on auto repairs and rentals.

The Education Omnibus bill which puts $1.1 billion in new funding into education over last biennium, as well as the Environment Omnibus Bill which includes a number of meaningful reforms also are moving forward this week. I will continue to share information as we move forward passing and negotiating final budget bills with the Senate and Governor Dayton. Also, as always please do not hesitate to reach out if you have input or ideas you would like to share. I am here to serve you!

House File 792

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A quick selfie with an all-green voter board as my bill passed the House Floor on Wednesday

On Wednesday, the House unanimously passed my bill, House File 792. The bill exempts one and two family dwellings and two-unit townhouses from the sprinkler mandate. This is important because this mandate has resulted in dwindling home construction in areas with high workforce housing needs in Greater Minnesota.

It’s a commonsense bill that received strong bipartisan support. I am glad we got it passed, and I am hopeful Governor Dayton will sign the bill into law.

Reinsurance Bill Update

This week, the House and Senate came to an agreement on legislation that, according to Minnesota Management and Budget, is projected to reduce premiums by 17 percent or more. The state-based reinsurance bill will help turn around our failing individual market and ensure that Minnesotans with the highest medical needs continue to have access to the coverage they need.

Following the premium relief and reform bill passed earlier this year, this is the next step to address ongoing problems with Obamacare and our individual market. The bill will be sent to Governor Dayton for his signature.

Around the Capitol

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Secondhand Hounds and Uber Puppies brought puppies to the Capitol last week to promote adoption on National Puppy Day

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Some great folks from Good Shepherd Nursing Home were at the Capitol this week including Barb Rebischke, VP of Outreach Services, Bruce Glanzer, CEO and President, and Tomi Fyle, Program Director at the Memory Cottages. Pictured with Rep. O’Driscoll (left) and me (far right).

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Another picture with Bruce and Tomi in the Capitol


If you have ideas, suggestions or concerns about legislation being debated in the House this session, I welcome you to contact my office. Your input is invaluable and helps me better represent the priorities of our community.

It’s an honor to be your voice at the Capitol. Have a wonderful weekend!