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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Eric Lucero (R)

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Rep. Eric Lucero (30B) - April 29 Legislative Update

Friday, April 29, 2016

Dear Neighbor,

It was very busy this week working several late nights passing multiple supplemental omnibus finance bills with net-zero spending off the House floor. Net-zero means the spending is not increased, but instead represents a reprioritization of existing dollars. The omnibus bills contained many good provisions of which I’ve included several highlights below. Next steps for the omnibus bills are for the Speaker of the House to appoint several House members to meet in conference committees with like appointed Senators to hash out the differences and agree upon common language.

K-12 EDUCATION

  • Begins to close the per pupil funding inequity gap by increasing funding for our school districts through the expansion of the current Metro Equity funding categorical to all school districts statewide. While expanding the Metro Equity funding categorical 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.
  • Keeps the best teachers in the classroom by repealing the Last In First Out (LIFO) statute currently in state law.

HIGHER EDUCATION

  • Lowers student costs by eliminating need for remedial classes that don't count toward graduation requirements, and ensures students are aware of loan forgiveness opportunities.
  • Expands opportunities for all students including parents working toward their graduate degrees, students in recovery, and students with disabilities.
  • Directs the Legislative Auditor to perform a comprehensive assessment to confirm/deny the University of Minnesota’s potential use of aborted fetal tissue.

JOB GROWTH & ENERGY AFFORDABILITY

  • Assists Greater Minnesota communities by including a new grant program to assist Greater Minnesota communities struggling with child care shortages and repeals the statute passed in 2014 by Democrats allowing for the unionization of independent day care providers. The repeal language included in the bill is in response to the overwhelming rejection of unionization by Minnesota providers earlier this year.

PUBLIC SAFETY

  • Reduces Minnesota's prison bed shortage by requiring the Commissioner of the MN Department of Corrections to attempt to purchase or lease-to-own the privately owned prison located in Appleton, MN.
  • Increases penalties for driving without a license resulting in bodily injury/death as well as increases penalties for failing to stop for school buses with activated stop-signals and flashing red lights.

HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

  • Repeals child care unionization authority and includes reforms recommended from the Select Committee on Affordable Child Care to take the first steps toward seriously addressing access to quality, affordable childcare.
  • Captures waste, fraud, and abuse savings from public programs and directs the money saved to long-term and community-based caregivers.
  • Transitions Minnesota away from MNsure to the federal exchange, and makes several reforms to limit the state's ability to make future estate claims, reduce the MNsure premium withholding, and establish performance benchmarks that may result in additional premium withholding reductions if benchmarks are not met.

ENVIRONMENT & NATURAL RESOURCES

  • Includes $5.4 million funding to defend against potential lawsuits from either proponents or opponents of the PolyMet project, depending on the states’ decisions on numerous permit and other regulatory actions.

AGRICULTURE

  • Reprioritizes unspent avian flu emergency response dollars budgeted to farm safety last session to livestock disease prevention and response funds in the event of a future agriculture crisis.

STATE GOVERNMENT FINANCE

  • Eliminates non-essential travel by state employees, reduces salaries for top Dayton administration executives by 5 percent, and implements a hiring freeze until the end of Fiscal Year 2017.
  • Includes multiple pro-veterans provisions including security improvements for National Guard facilities, grants for Eagle's Healing Nest, the State Soldiers Assistance Fund, and veteran rent subsidies.

As always, please contact me with any questions or concerns I may be able to assist you with. 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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