Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Happy New Year! In just a couple of weeks, lawmakers will return to St. Paul in order to begin the 2020 Legislative Session. There are a number of topics I expect will take center stage.
With a projected $1.3 billion budget surplus for the remainder of the current budget cycle, I believe we should be pursuing ways to provide tax relief to Minnesotans. Senior citizen tax relief and full compliance with federal Section 179 depreciation are among the options I favor. I am also proposing a tax credit for those who don’t have company sponsored health insurance and are paying extraordinarily high insurance premiums in our region.
The Department of Human Services will also receive significant scrutiny this session. After months of news stories highlighting fraud, incompetence and law violations, there’s little doubt many lawmakers want to bring increased oversight to this department and encourage greater transparency. As a member of the HHS Finance Committee, I will be spending a lot of my time this session on this issue and have multiple bills that I am sponsoring to address this fraud and mismanagement.
Legislators will also debate a capital investment proposal to fund construction projects around Minnesota. As the even-numbered year is traditionally the bonding year of the legislative biennium, the capital investment committees in the House and Senate have been bombarded with bonding requests and have been vetting prospective projects this fall.
On the House side, I have received project proposals for several of my communities. Lake City is seeking bonding funds to address water and sewer needs in Hok Si La Park and for development of their harbor. Cannon Falls is looking for support for the Cannon Valley Trail to protect it from erosion and damage from major rainfalls. Red Wing is seeking funds for infrastructure upgrades on Old West Main Street and along Bay Point Park. I will be sure to keep you updated on their progress.
Addressing a budget surplus and a bonding package are just the tip of the iceberg. Dozens of bills will likely be brought to the House floor for approval over the next few months, some may sail through with little opposition, while others will be debated vigorously. As usual, expect a lively and interesting session.
DO YOU NEED REAL ID?
The deadline to comply with new federal ID standards arrives later this year, so I’m encouraging people to sign up now and beat the rush. As a refresher, the REAL ID Act was passed by Congress in 2005 and was enacted to establish minimum security standards for issuing licenses. The Act prohibits certain Federal agencies from accepting driver’s licenses and identification cards from states that do not meet the Act’s minimum standards.
Starting October 1st, every air traveler 18 years of age or older will need a Real ID, enhanced driver’s license or ID (created in 2014 as an option prior to Minnesota's compliance with the federal REAL ID), passport or passport card, or another acceptable form of ID to fly within the United States or enter federal facilities.
Reports show fewer than ten percent of Minnesotans currently are compliant with the new ID standards and it is still taking several weeks for the state to turn around applications.
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s website has information detailing the requirements and documents needed to obtain a Real ID driver’s license or enhanced driver’s License or state ID card. Click here to learn more.
Very simply, if you don’t have a Real ID driver’s license OR a current passport, you won’t be able to get on an airplane in October. So, if you want to get a Real ID driver’s license, the sooner you can start this process the better.
But please know that Minnesota does allow individuals who don't fly often or need their ID for access to any federal facilities to get the same ID they have obtained for the past years. You would then need to travel with your passport to fly domestically as well as international or to get into a federal facility. This license would be a class D renewal.
The paperwork required is different in each category, so click here to learn more.
Additionally, DPS home page offers a pre application for faster service in renewing. You can access this information here.
NEW STUDY EXPLORING MINNESOTA’S FOOD AND BEVERAGE MANUFACTURING CAPACITY
The Agricultural Utilization Research Institute, in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Region Nine Development Commission and FoodOps, is conducting a survey to identify food and beverage manufacturing trends to support growth in these and related sectors. The goal of the survey is to generate information about potentially impactful opportunities, which can be shared to help create an increased economic impact for the entire state.
They are looking especially for the small and medium sized entrepreneurs to take the survey and help develop the next steps to bringing innovative ideas to a broader market.
The survey is currently open and will be available to participants until February 5, 2020. To participate in the survey, please visit the survey here.
I was pleased to meet with residents in Wabasha on Tuesday and Cannon Falls on Wednesday to learn more about their thoughts on legislative issues.
If you missed that event, please try to join Senator Goggin and me at these upcoming events on Wednesday, January 29:
Red Wing: Caribou Coffee Boardroom
726 Main Street
Lake City: Marien’s Deli
716 W, Lyon Avenue
Hope to see you there!
You’ll want to make plans to attend Lake City’s WinterFest, which takes place on January 31 and February 1. As the Lake City Chamber of Commerce notes, WinterFest is a fantastic day of both indoor and outdoor activities designed to curb the cabin fever... if even just for a day.
STAYING IN TOUCH
As always, if you have questions or concerns regarding any issue, please contact me. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-296-8635.