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Minnesota Legislature

Legislative News and Views - Rep. Dale Lueck (R)

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Avian flu funding, taxes and increase for senior care facilities

Friday, May 01, 2015
Dear Neighbor,
 
Budget work continues this week at the Capitol. We are nearly finished passing the House's major budget bills. Once passed in the House, they go to conference committees where the House and Senate versions are reconciled for final passage. Here are some of this week's highlights.
 
TAXES

A bill I authored to phase out Minnesota's practice of taxing Social Security retirement benefits has passed the House Wednesday as a provision in the omnibus tax bill. Estimates indicate this would provide tax relief in the range of $280 to $600 per person to more than 366,500 Minnesotans. This would assist many people in District 10B, where 43 percent of our residents receive Social Security retirement benefits.

Elder and disabled care is a top priority. Our area of Minnesota has one of the state's oldest median ages, which means many are retired and living on fixed incomes. In the House we passed increases for our nursing homes, assisted living facilities and in home care services, but we need to assist our seniors in a more direct way.

Minnesota is one of only six states that still fully taxes Social Security retirement benefits. My plan phases out that tax over a five-year period.
 
Other tax relief provisions include a new Minnesota personal or dependent tax exemption that could save a middle-class family of four more than $500 over the next two years. The House proposal also provides families with pre-kindergarteners to high school seniors with expanded education deductions, and allows families saving for higher education costs to deduct their contributions.
 
HHS

The House's Health & Human Services budget bill increases funding for senior care facilities and workers throughout Minnesota, including those in District 10B. The HHS bill also includes a measure I authored that allows unused nursing home beds to be redistributed to areas of the state that need these beds.

Our proposal increases funding for nursing homes, particularly in Greater Minnesota, by more than $138 million. In addition, the bill also includes $90 million for a 5-percent cost-of-living adjustment for in home and community-based care workers. I have insisted that we increase our investment in this important area, in particular increased compensation for the dedicated professionals who provide that care.

Those increases are more than what the governor and the Senate currently propose. I encourage the Senate and governor to join us in the House and move forward with this initiative which invests in our nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and in-home care services for our seniors and disabled.

AVIAN INFLUENZA

The House voted for final passage of legislation that includes $900,000 in emergency funding requested by the state's Board of Animal Health and the Department of Agriculture. Language is also included in the bill allowing Minnesota to access available federal emergency funding. It is anticipated the governor will sign that important legislation later today.

Additional funding is forthcoming and included in the agriculture budget bill which we expect to tak up next week. I will keep you informed as we work toward wrapping up this legislative session by May 18.

Sincerely,

Dale

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