We’re now starting the third week of the legislative session. It has been a very busy start to the year and it was nice to have some time to reflect on Dr. King’s legacy yesterday with my family. I continue to hear from constituents about various issues and I hope some of you will come visit my office in St. Paul as well! Here are a few things I want to share from the first two weeks:
Bipartisan Tax Bill Passes
The first bill we voted on in the House was a bipartisan tax measure which passed unanimously. The Tax Conformity bill matches Minnesota’s income tax laws with new laws passed by the federal government and will benefit 178,000 Minnesotans. Passing tax conformity early will enable tax forms and computer programs to be up to date when you file your 2016 taxes. This bipartisan legislation will help many Minnesotans maximize their refunds, including those paying for college and home mortgages. You can read more about the Tax Conformity bill signed into law by Governor Dayton here.
Meetings with Individuals, Committee Meetings, and Floor Session
As a legislator, my time is spent in many different types of meetings. Many of my informal meetings are with constituents, as well as groups who are concerned about specific issues (such as conserving natural resources or preventing child abuse). I also spend time speaking with other legislators from both sides of the aisle to find out where we can agree and to inform them about the issues I’m working on.
Much of my time is spent at formal meetings including committee meetings, and when we meet in session on the House Floor. Once a bill is introduced, it goes to a committee that covers that subject area. If it moves along and is voted out of the committee stage, it eventually makes it to the House Floor. Once on the floor, as a stand-alone bill or part of a package of bills, it will be up for discussion, amendments and an eventual vote. For a bill to make it to the Governor to be signed in to law, it needs to also have been agreed to by the Senate and have gone along the same process there. It’s a long process but necessary to assure that the public has the ability to weigh in at all points, and to make sure the language in the bill is correct and accomplishes what we want it to accomplish.
How to Follow the Process
There are lots of ways you can follow the legislative process. Say you wanted to follow my bill to fund the construction of the 694-Rice Street bridge interchange, House File 125. You could do so by signing up for a “My Bill” account to track it and other legislation. You would get email notifications each time my bill was scheduled to be heard or when a vote would take place.
You can also follow the broader work of the legislature with the nonpartisan “Session Daily” publication. From there, you can also sign up for an email list to get updates on everything being heard in each of the House committees.
For gavel-to-gavel video coverage of the House, here is a list of sources you can follow to stay updated on House committee and floor coverage. It may sound boring but it is a really great way to learn how our legislature works.
Broadcast television schedule: www.house.mn/htv/htv.asp
Broadcast television channels: www.house.mn/htv/channel.pdf
Webcast/mobile streaming schedule: www.house.mn/htv/schedule.asp
Please don’t hesitate to contact my office with any questions you may have about the whole process!
Again, thank you for the opportunity to serve as your voice at the Capitol,