I hope you all had a wonderful Father’s Day weekend. I know I would not be who I am without my dad. He instilled in me a love of asking questions, taught me to love God, others, and myself. I am so thankful for him, and to all the other dads out there—whether you are a biological father or a positive father figure/male-role model to others, thank you for what you do!
Here is an update from the Capitol.
Since first being elected, one of my top priorities has been to advocate for the hardworking taxpayers of our district and state. Government should be good stewards of our tax dollars, investing in our shared priorities (like education and transportation infrastructure, for instance) - while also limiting state government growth.
When Congress overhauled our tax code late last year, the House and Senate made it a top priority to pass tax conformity in Minnesota, ensuring that Minnesotans can take full advantage of state and federal tax relief. Our plan held 99.8 percent of filers harmless, provided over 2.2 million filers with a tax cut, implemented the first income tax cut rate in nearly twenty years, and also simplified our tax code with the intent of avoiding unnecessary complications for filings in 2019.
Unfortunately, this legislation was vetoed by the Governor. If you are curious for more on this, the following videos give the perspective from House and Senate leaders, as well as the Governor.
Response by Speaker of the House Kurt Daudt: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgfp4n0F9Ho
Response by Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4c2qt9TKzRo&feature=youtu.be
Statement by Governor Mark Dayton: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vfFHGvqE0uA
Because of this veto, the MN Department of Revenue will no longer be able to use the federal tax return, but will essentially have to create a whole new state system and forms. Additionally, the Department of Revenue estimates that approximately 300,000 Minnesotans will see a tax increase next year. My hope is that with a new Governor and Legislature next year, we will immediately tackle this issue again, protecting Minnesota taxpayers.
Still even with that veto, I am pleased at what was accomplished for taxpayers this biennium— in 2017, we passed, and the Governor signed into law, the largest tax relief package for Minnesotans in nearly 20 years. We helped seniors on social security, families with child care expenses, graduates with student loan debt, businesses, and farmers keep more of their hard-earned money.
Though there is more work to be done, that bill passing was good step for all Minnesota.
Legislation I Worked On
I was proud to carry several pieces of legislation this session. Though I knew many would not get hearings or become law this biennium (there were over 4000 bills introduced last session, and the chairs of our committees cannot hear them all so they must prioritize), I think beginning, and continuing, conversations on issues is a key part of making change.
For example, I authored a bill that would prohibit abortion in Minnesota. While that bill did not receive a hearing, I believe starting the conversation on this issue and moving the ball forward even a little is important.
I also authored a couple bills that would provide bonding dollars to upgrade the rail crossings at Highway 47 (Ferry Street) in Anoka and at Ramsey Blvd. in Ramsey. While these did not pass ($2 million was secured for the Ramsey crossing, though that’s not the full amount needed) I am thankful MNDOT recognizes the need to upgrade them and am hopeful the Legislature will recognize the need as well in a future legislative session.
The Property Tax Reform Bill I carried was heard, and while it did not make it into the final tax bill, I think we have moved the ball! Indeed, I was pleased at the enthusiasm from my colleagues that ensued after the hearing. Many acknowledged it is an area that is difficult to tackle, yet, that doesn't mean we shouldn't. Notably, Rep. Paul Marquart, a member of the other party, appreciated the work I did and signed on as a co-author to the bill. I believe there is momentum for this sort of change and am hopeful someone will carry on with the work that was begun.
Finally, a couple bills I carried made it all the way to the Governor's desk. While one was vetoed (my pro-life ultrasound bill), I am so pleased the Governor signed into law my bill to train hotel workers to identify sex trafficking.
I am hopeful that many of these important issues will continue to be worked on and move forward next year. You can see all of the bills I introduced here. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have questions on any of these!
Preliminary Rates Provide Good News for Minnesota
Last Friday, the MN Department of Commerce released preliminary rates for the 2019 individual insurance market. For the second consecutive year, these reforms have helped reduce or hold flat individual market health insurance rates. That’s a pretty significant turnaround after several years of double-digit premium increases, including nearly 60 percent in 2017.
All five of the carriers on the individual market are projected to decrease premiums next year, with average preliminary rates dropping between 3 and 12.4 percent.
From helping lower costs, to implementing policies to increase choice and protect consumers, our health care reforms are having a positive impact in Minnesota and pushing back against the harm done by MNsure and the Affordable Care Act. Expect final rates to come out in October of this year. And a big thank you to everyone who worked so diligently crafting these reforms.
After the disappointing roll-out of Minnesota’s new licensing and registration system, MNLARS, the House and Senate passed legislation to increase accountability and oversight. As part of that new law put into place, MNLARS must provide regular reports with key information on their progress.
You can see their latest quarterly report here.
As always, if you are having trouble with MNLARS, please don’t hesitate to reach out to my office for assistance. I am here to serve you!
Wall that Heals Event at the Capitol
I would encourage people in the Twin Cities to stop by the Capitol June 21-24 to see the Wall that Heals, a traveling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.
There will also be a number of events including a daily reading of the names of Minnesota’s fallen, museum exhibits, film screenings, a mobile education center, and more.
This is a wonderful event to honor and remember the brave Minnesotans who served our nation in the Vietnam War. You can learn more here.
As I shared last month, a Fox 9 report showed upwards of $100 million of state childcare subsidies being fraudulently allocated to childcare facilities, with some of the dollars being funneled overseas. This investigative report was surprising and upsetting, to say the least, as it means that hardworking taxpayers and the families who need these programs are being defrauded.
In response, House Republicans unveiled legislation this session that provided meaningful solutions to address this serious problem, and I expect it will be something we continue to address next year.
You can see the most recent Fox 9 story about it here.
I had a great time participating as a judge (for an apologetics round) at a national homeschool speech competition this week at the University of Northwestern in St. Paul. Well done to all of the fantastic student competitors!
Greater MSP 2.0 Regional Survey
Greater MSP is conducting a survey about the future of our region. There are three questions, and responses are due Tuesday, June 26. I’d encourage you to share your thoughts here.
Around the Community
Cops and Cones
Attend an upcoming Cops and Cones event with the Anoka Police Department. Stop by and say hi to members of our local police department, and enjoy some ice cream too. It takes place July 11 from 5-7 PM at the Akin Riverside Park on 1721 River Ave, Anoka.
2018 Concerts in the Park
Sunday evenings starting in June, come enjoy some great music with the weekly Concert in the Park. The concerts start at 7 PM in George Green Park in Anoka. See the full schedule and get more details here.
Ramsey Parks and Recreation
There are plenty of fun activities in Ramsey this month! Check out the Ramsey Parks and Recreation event calendar here for more information.
Anoka Classic Car Show
The 2018 Anoka Classic Car Show takes place Saturdays from 5:00 PM through dusk throughout the summer in downtown Anoka. Get all the details here.
The Draw Summer Event Series
Every Thursday from June 14 through August 23, the Draw Summer Event Series is happening in Ramsey. Concert style music starts at 6:30 PM at the Draw Amphitheater and the events are free to the public. Learn more here.
Celebrate the Fourth of July!
Anoka’s annual Fourth of July celebration includes a fireworks display and ice cream social. The fireworks are Tuesday, July 3 at dusk, and the best viewing is at Castle Field. Before the fireworks, there will also be the 6th Annual Anoka American Legion Post #102 Alumni Baseball Game at Castle Field with concessions, yard games, and music. Then on July 4, attend the ice cream social from noon to 3 PM at George Green Park, where there will be free root beer floats, yard games, food trucks and a concert.
You can learn more here.
Please know my office is available should you need assistance on a matter of state government. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-1729 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I also welcome your input and ideas on legislation and matters moving through the Minnesota House. I am here to serve you and it is a joy! Thank you for the honor and privilege of being your state representative.
Have a wonderful weekend,