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

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Capitol Update from Rep. Tama Theis

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Friends and Neighbors,

We are entering the final stretch of the 2013 legislative session and are beginning to debate and discuss large pieces of the 2014-2015 state budget. Here is some more information:

2013 Tax Increase Bill Unveiled

Ironically, as Americans rushed to file their taxes by yesterday’s IRS deadline, Democrat leaders in the Minnesota House celebrated April 15 by announcing their 2013 Tax Omnibus Bill. The bill will increase taxes by $2.5 billion dollars on Minnesotans, or around $465.00 more for every man, woman and child in the state. This tax increase would include higher taxes on tobacco products, alcohol (raising the price of a glass of wine or beer), and on higher income individuals (including many small businesses). In order to pay for the larger-than-inflation spending increases in departments across the state budget, Democrat leaders have resorted to these tax increases and I am concerned about the aftermath for our state’s economy and the budgets of families in our area.

HF 729 – Commerce and Housing Bill

Last night (April 15), the House passed the first omnibus budget bill of the year - the Jobs, Commerce and Housing Omnibus bill – which will spend $436 million on many expenditures I am opposed to. Just two years ago, the budget for this same department was over $100 million (more than 25%) less, and since that budget’s passage, Minnesota has seen tremendous job growth in the state. I voted “no” on expanding the size of this state department on the backs of hardworking taxpayers.

Some expenditures of the bill include:

  • A 46% increase in the state’s rental car tax to pay for Explore Minnesota tourism advertising
  • $500,000 in additional assistance to ex-felons through the Network for Better Futures program
  • $360,000 for the Dept. of Economic Development (DEED) to hire marketing consultants and rebrand state programs
  • $300,000 for DEED to travel the state and study the cost of living
  • $140,000 to fund a voicemail program for homeless people that is already funded through local/private money.

The bill increases $30 million in new taxes and fees on Minnesotans, including:

  • Insurance Agent Appointments Fee increase
  • Weights & Measures Fee (gas stations, grocery stores) increase
  • Cosmetologist Penalties increase
  • Barbers Fee increase
  • Plumbing Inspection Fee restructuring

The changes in fees and taxes will impact many small businesses across our area in a negative way. Lastly, the bill makes unfair changes to unemployment rules for Minnesota workers. While 26 weeks of pay is the typical amount of unemployment assistance laid off workers can receive, my Democrat colleagues are proposing to provide three years of unemployment to “locked out” workers, such as recent factory workers you may have heard about. Minnesota needs a healthy economy where everyone has the same opportunity, everyone follows the rules and everyone benefits.

More Bills to Come

There are several large pieces of legislation still to come up for a vote in the coming weeks, including:

  • Public Safety (HF 724)
  • Judiciary (HF 1160)
  • Environment/Natural Resources/Ag (HF 976)
  • Legacy (HF 1183)
  • State Government Finance (HF 1184)
  • Capital Investment (HF 270)
  • Transportation Finance (HF 1444)
  • Health & Human Services (HF 1233)
  • K-12 Education (HF 630)
  • Higher Education (HF 457)

 I hope to stay in touch with you as these bills move forward.


Rep. Tama Theis