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Rep. Eric Lucero (30B) - April 15 Legislative Update

Friday, April 15, 2016

Dear Neighbor,

Wow, what a turnaround in weather from 31 degrees this time last week to 73 degrees today! Today marks the conclusion of Week 6 of the legislative session with five weeks remaining. I’ve included below several highlights from the Capitol this week.

EQUITY IN EDUCATION

The House supplemental K-12 education finance bill passed out of the Education Finance Committee this week with a net-zero target. Net-zero means the spending within the education finance bill is a reprioritization of existing dollars.

VERY GOOD NEWS! As you are aware, I’ve been working hard fighting to close the opportunity gap for our children by closing the large, per pupil funding inequity gap for our schools vs. metro area schools. $7.7 million was included in the education finance bill to begin to close the disparity gap. While the funding increase for our schools (seen in the table below) does not entirely close the inequity funding gap, the funding increase is certainly a step in the right direction as we continue fighting for our children.

METROPOLITAN COUNCIL & LIGHT RAIL

In the House Transportation Committee this week the Metropolitan Council presented their plan for the full build-out of light rail commuter trains across the entire seven-county Metro. Highlights from the Met Council’s presentation/testimony include:

  • Met Council’s desire to raise the metro area sales tax by half-cent
  • Dedicate the $2.8 billion newly collected revenue taxed from hard working families and businesses to fund light rail and bus transit and accelerate construction of the full light rail build-out
  • The Met Council’s assertion transit spurs development
  • The Met Council’s assertion transit creates jobs

I am 100-percent opposed to raising any tax and light-rail commuter trains. I asked the Met Council testifier the below question following their presentation:

  • In 2013 Gov. Dayton raised job-killing taxes by $2 billion. A report published last month (by the Center of the American Experiment) revealed an approximate $1 billion decrease in net MN household income between 2013-2014 due to the wealth exodus of people fleeing Minnesota to lower tax states. Do you believe the number of jobs you claim will be created as a result of your proposed half-cent sales tax increase make up for the jobs lost from Gov. Dayton’s 2013 income tax increase?

REAL ID

This morning a joint meeting between the House Transportation Committee and Civil Law Committee took place to receive a report to the legislature regarding implementation Real ID in Minnesota. This is the first information made available since the Legislature recently lifted the prohibition on research/planning Real ID.

I am opposed to the implementation of Real ID in for several reasons. My top reasons include:

  • Alternatives to Real ID exist such that Minnesotan’s travel plans, visits to Federal building, or military bases do not have to be disrupted
  • Collection and third party sharing of law abiding Minnesotan’s private information will vastly increase
  • Real ID mandates from the Federal Government are yet another blatant disregard for the 10th Amendment and State’s Rights
  • This is yet another unfunded initiative of the Federal Government

Testifiers from the Department of Public Safety were emphatic in their declaration there is no state-to-state data sharing currently and there would be no state-to-state data sharing under Real ID. On that note, I asked the following question for which the testifiers had no answer:

  • Page 7 of your report reads “REAL ID would not require state-to-state data sharing” but page 8 reads “the State-to-State data exchange will likely require a software application”. Can you explain why your report is self-contradicting itself?

FIREWORKS FREEDOM ACT

I was proud to vote in favor of Fireworks Freedom bill that passed off the House floor and would allow for more freedom for Minnesotans who want to shoot off a bottle rocket, firecracker and other aerial fireworks around Independence Day. The Fireworks Freedom bill would allow aerial and audible devices be sold and used from June 1 to July 10 each year. Purchases would be limited to citizens age 18 and older and local governments would be able to enact further restrictions such as prohibiting the fireworks from being sold and be able to charge license fees to retailers.

BATHROOM/LOCKER ROOM PHYSICAL SAFETY AND PRIVACY

The House Civil Law Committee conducted an informational hearing this week on the bill I’m co-author of that would require people to use bathrooms/locker rooms matching their biological sex and thereby protect the physical safety and privacy of children and women. No vote was taken because it was an informational hearing, but good testimony was provided by approximately 20 people. It is undermined at this point what next steps are for the bill.

On a related note, I was one of 35 Minnesota legislators who signed a letter sent to North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory supporting him after Gov. Mark Dayton banned all non-essential travel to North Carolina by Minnesota state employees.

Go enjoy the warm weather and I hope you and your family have a blessed weekend!

Sincerely,

Rep. Eric Lucero

State Representative
District 30B
Albertville, Hanover, Otsego, Saint Michael, and the Wright County portion of Dayton

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