Tomorrow, February 20 kicks off the 2018 legislative session. Though it’s a shorter session, there is still plenty to accomplish. I want to give you a quick preview of what I see as some of the major issues facing us this session.
One of the major areas we will look to tackle is conformity with the new federal tax code. Republicans in Washington passed a massive tax relief package that is already paying dividends for families in Minnesota and across the country. However, this creates a challenge at the state level as we will need to conform to the new tax code. This sounds simple, but we need to make sure we do this in a way that provides the intended tax relief for Minnesotans. It could be a lengthy process, but I'm confident we can help to further ease the tax burden for our residents.
Heading into this year, we will also take a look at the state's new licensing system, MNLARS. If you have transferred a title or tried to get new tabs since July, you have likely experienced delays, shutdowns, or your order still hasn't been processed. The root of the problem is MNLARS, a $100 million, 10-year project that produced a system wrought with issues. Despite numerous assurances from those in charge of MNLARS, the system is still broken with no fixes in sight. In fact, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety came to the legislature asking for almost $50 million MORE. The utter waste of taxpayer dollars is shocking, and we need to make sure the state gets this system working without wasting more of your tax dollars.
Personally, I would like to see the legislature make significant reforms to the Metropolitan Council. These unelected leaders are appointed by the governor, yet have the authority to levy a tax. Since they are not elected, they are only accountable to the sitting governor. It's wrong for this much influence to be in the hands of unelected officials. We need to look at all avenues - including making the TAB function a standalone function - in order to give taxpayers more say in these large decisions.
Also, I'm working on a bill to eliminate the Minnesota commercial truck inspection requirement. Federal law already requires an inspection. Having our own inspection program is duplicative and an unnecessary use of resources. As legislators, we must identify and fix all areas of waste and duplication no matter the size.
With session starting, I welcome any calls, emails, or visits to the Capitol so you can share your opinion with me. Feel free to contact me any time at 651-296-2439 or firstname.lastname@example.org.