The 2018 legislative session started Tuesday, and we are set for a short and busy session as we work to address many issues important to folks in Central Minnesota and across the state.
Here are some key things we will be working on this year:
Federal Tax Conformity
With significant tax reform at the federal level, my goal is to ensure that folks can take full advantage of both state and federal tax relief. Current estimates show that full federal tax conformity by the state would mean several hundred million dollars in additional revenue to the state. We will be working to return that money right back to taxpayers through additional tax relief, ensuring you can keep more of your hard earned money.
While the federal tax bill won’t affect filers until 2019, addressing this issue now will mean fewer complications and more clarity come tax time next year.
Protecting Aging and Vulnerable Adults
Serving on the Aging and Long-Term Care Subcommittee, the most critical issue we will be working on this year is how to address abuse and neglect in senior care facilities. An investigation by the Star Tribune last year detailed problems folks faced in homes across the state, and more troubling still is that the Department of Health was reportedly aware of many of these incidents but failed to properly follow up.
While there have been improvements made by the Department of Health since that time, there is still more work to be done. The Legislature will be looking at policies and reforms we can put in place to ensure our loved ones are taken care of with dignity and respect.
Legislators will be looking this session at a possible bonding bill that funds key infrastructure and transportation needs across the state. I am advocating for a few key projects in our district that I hope will be included in a bonding bill this year.
The first is funding for the design and construction of a public amphitheater in Waite Park where they would host music, theater and other events in the community. I introduced that bill last year and will again be advocating for it this session.
The second project I am championing is funding for the St. Cloud Municipal Athletic Complex. The money would go toward the installation of new artificial turf, a comprehensive remodel of Dick Putz Field and an expansion of the hockey arena to include additional training, locker and meeting space.
These are important projects for our district, and I hope we can get them passed as part of a reasonably-sized bonding bill this session.
One of the biggest problems our state’s been facing is the disastrous new Minnesota Licensing and Registration System (MNLARS). Since its rollout this summer, citizens have faced problems doing simple tasks like renewing tabs or transferring titles, DMVs have blown through overtime budgets, and it’s been a significant problem for folks in every part of our state.
Now, after taxpayers have already shelled out nearly $100 million for this failed program, the Dayton Administration is asking for another $43 million to fix it this session. There must be responsibility taken by the Administration and state agencies on this matter. My goal is to find fiscally-responsible solutions that protect taxpayers and give Minnesotans a functioning licensing system.
On that note, if you have had trouble with MNLARS, please don’t hesitate to reach out to my office for assistance. I am here to serve you!
It’s an honor to be your voice at the Capitol. Have a wonderful weekend!