Dear Lakeville Neighbors,
It’s starting to feel like spring, despite the impending storm, and here in St. Paul that means committees have started to hear omnibus finance bills. However, no matter how busy things get here, it is always such a treat to meet with local constituents that take the time to schedule a visit. As we work more on the House floor or when committee meetings run long, I apologize if our time was cut short or if we weren’t able to connect.
This week’s update is on a few different items and there is one that might be worth your time reading down to the bottom of the update that includes learning how the state might have something valuable (cash) of yours!
Local Tourism and Jobs
I was pleased to meet with a number of local folks including two from the Zweber family. Mark, Jan, and their family are the owners of Heritage Links Golf Course in Lakeville and took time to visit to share about their business and its impact of on the economy. Golf is an important part of tourism in Lakeville and the State. As the Masters Golf Tournament starts next week, I’m sure golfers are looking forward to getting out on the course as temperatures continue to rise!
Thanks to the brother and sister team, Mark and Jan Zweber for taking time to visit.
State of the State
Governor Walz gave his first State of the State address last Wednesday. While the speech was light on policy and substance, I do appreciate his comments regarding bipartisanship and working together to move the state forward.
My guess is that his speech was light on specific policy proposals because it has become apparent that many of his big-ticket policy initiatives have serious question marks and are incredibly expensive.
For example, Governor Walz’s paid sick and family leave proposal has been met with resistance from a number of advocacy and business groups due to the excessive costs and burdens it will place on employers and employees.
This proposal will cost businesses and employees $1.6 billion in new taxes for a program that will take years to fully implement. Thousands of Minnesotans already enjoy benefits that are better than those outlined in this proposal. If this bill were to pass and become law, employers would have no incentive to continue offering generous benefit sets, and many would likely scale back benefits to match the minimum benefits in the Governor’s plan. Regardless of the number of employees, ALL employers large and small would need to cover the $1.6 billion in mandatory new payroll taxes and about 400 new full-time state employees!
Democrats Releases “One Expensive Place to Drive” Transportation Proposal
Last Monday, the House DFL released details of their transportation proposal. While there are specific policy provisions in the bill that I support (some of which I authored) overall, this transportation package will move Minnesota backward.
I am most concerned about the across the board, excessive taxes and fees contained within the bill. Most notable is the 70% gas tax increase, increases in the metro area sales tax, and significantly more expensive license tab fees. Additionally, the spending in the bill is extreme with purchasing new electric buses that are almost twice as expensive as standard busses we use now, and $850,000 to study expanding commuter and light rail.
Last biennium, House Republicans proved that we can make historic investments in our transportation system without raising taxes by redirecting already existing sales taxes on automotive parts to roads and bridges; using less than 1% of state general funds.
The DFL's plan puts Minnesota drivers in reverse. We can do better.
Providing Leadership for Lakeville
It’s an honor to do the work that ensures Lakeville’s voice is heard loud and clear at the capitol. While some of the work isn’t always glamorous or “twitter-worthy”, I am working hard each and every day to make sure Lakeville has a seat at the table.
That’s why I am so pleased to let you know that two of my bills and specific language related to Metro Mobility have been included in the transportation omnibus bill. The first is legislation that extends Metro Mobility service to Lakeville and the second is a data sharing bill that will save Metro Transit and Minnesota taxpayers an estimated $8 million a year!
Extending Metro Mobility to Lakeville is something that I have been working on for the past several sessions and I am pleased to see that we are finally getting close to the finish line. It can be hard to get a bill hearing and I’m hopeful we can make this service a reality for seniors and our disabled citizens in Lakeville.
I am also pleased to share that another bill I authored that provides funding for job training through the International Institute of Minnesota has been included in the Jobs omnibus bill.
This organization provides educational and job training programming to new Americans to help them achieve economic independence, and has a fantastic 100-year history of success with workforce development and advancement in nursing assistant training and hospitality career pathways.
Stay tuned for more updates on omnibus bills as they are introduced and move to the House floor for a vote.
Finally; the Good Stuff, YOUR MONEY!! - Unclaimed Property Program
Each year millions of dollars and property are turned over to the Unclaimed Property Program through the Department of Commerce by businesses (usually banks and insurance companies) who are unable to contact property owners. These properties may be in the form of cash, stocks, bonds, securities, insurance benefits, etc.
I encourage you to use the web portal at the Department of Commerce’s website to see if you or a family member (maybe deceased) or friend may be the owner of unclaimed property. You can visit this link: https://mnclaims.unclaimedproperty.com/en/Property/SearchIndex to search your name! You might have some cash you didn’t know about! I remember a few of my family members had different items unclaimed from moving out of state or when another family member died.
HURRY! There’s a provision in the Jobs omnibus bill that would significantly hinder this program and make it easier for the state to keep YOUR unclaimed property, to update their computer systems. My colleagues and I will fight against this provision and work to make sure Minnesotans keep more of their property.
Staying in Touch
Father Tim Griffith, formerly at All Saints in Lakeville served as the House chaplain a few weeks ago.
Local residents Rick Dale and Terry Branham were in St. Paul to testify in support of a bill I am co-authoring that provides one-time funding to the Armed Forces Service Center at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport for construction costs related to the remodeling of the Armed Forces Service Center and for refurbishing the center's furniture and beds used by service members. Thanks to Rick and Terry for everything they do for veterans in Lakeville and around the state!
As always, I will keep you updated on all the latest news from St. Paul as the session moves along
Have a great week,
Assistant Minority Leader
State Representative, Lakeville, 58A