Greetings from balmy St. Paul, where we are closing in on another week's work down here at the Capitol.
As we approach our first committee deadline (March 20) we have expanded committee schedules to include evening sessions to ensure bills have had the opportunity for their first hearing. Policy bills must have negotiated all their committee hearings by March 27 in order to eventually move forward for final consideration.
We moved forward HF 447, which would authorize Crow Wing County to sell selected parcels of tax forfeited property, ultimately putting them back on the local property tax role. Tax-forfeited land with stream or lake frontage involvement must have legislative approval before it can be sold back to the general public. Unlike other bills I am working on like increased funding for elder and disabled health care which has both district and statewide implications, this legislation is specific to our district.
Another district-specific bill (HF 1037) would deal with the iron range fiscal disparity business property tax. I have joined fellow Rep. Tom Anzelc (DFL) from just north of us (portions of Cass & Itasca counties) in attempting to take some of unpredictability out of this tax. Our proposal would limit the annual change to no more than 3 percent of last year's tax. This program impacts all three iron ranges and specifically the businesses located in the Aitkin and Crosby-Ironton School Districts.
The amount of the fiscal disparity tax and whether some or all of that tax money stays local or goes to another county or school district is based on a very complex formula. Recently we have seen huge swings in the amount of fiscal disparity taxes due each year, causing serious problems for our local businesses. Simply reducing the volatility is likely not the ultimate solution, however we must start somewhere.
Back to statewide issues, this week I was joined by both DFL and GOP legislators in introducing HF 1767 which would create a brighter line of separation between government-supported economic development activity and political activities. Under my bill to be eligible for state-funded economic development grants or loans, a businesses must not rely on a majority of its income as coming from political committees, political action funds, candidate election committees or state political parties. That has always made sense to us here in Minnesota and this bill is intended to simply put that into law.
Thanks you to all the people who continue providing their input as the session progresses. Look for more news on the state budget in upcoming weeks.