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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Erin Koegel (DFL)

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Legislative Update - January 31, 2018

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Dear Neighbors,

With one month of 2018 already in the books, I hope you and your family are doing well. Currently, the Twin Cities area is in the global spotlight with the Super Bowl and all of the related activities presenting a unique chance to show what we have to offer as a region. Here is an update from the Capitol.

Coon Rapids road closure

Due to a structural deficiency in the land bridge, westbound lanes of Main St. between Coon Creek and Coon Creek Blvd in Coon Rapids are currently closed. Engineers determined that while there is no imminent danger of collapse, closure of the westbound lanes was necessary in the interest of public safety and repair work will begin immediately. An area on the north side of the bridge is currently being excavated to give engineers access to the underside of the bridge slab.

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The detour is Hanson Blvd./CSAH 78, to Bunker Lake Blvd./CSAH 116, to Coon Creek Blvd./CSAH 18 to Main St./CSAH 14. There is no estimate of when the lanes will reopen, and drivers are encouraged to visit the Anoka County Highway Department’s website for updates.

Governor’s public works proposal

Situations like this highlight the need to properly take care of our infrastructure. Governor Dayton recently released his public works bonding recommendations for the Minnesota Legislature to consider in the 2018 session. The package of recommendations, totaling $1.5 billion, makes significant investments in higher education facilities, clean water infrastructure, affordable housing and other public infrastructure across the state. If fully enacted, the proposal is estimated to create over 22,000 jobs.

Locally, the Governor’s proposal includes plans to complete design and expand nursing classrooms and labs at Anoka-Ramsey Community College, and to renovate classrooms within in the Business/Nursing building. He also recommends funding demolition and reconstruction of a maintenance and equipment storage building at the National Sports Center, as well as addressing various deferred maintenance needs.

With interest rates so low and the need so great for our communities, I’ll push for a robust bill to repair our crumbling infrastructure and create jobs.

Tax filing open and free assistance available

The Minnesota Department of Revenue opened state individual income tax filing season on Monday. The filing deadline to submit 2017 income tax returns is Tuesday, April 17, 2018, rather than the traditional April 15date.

Electronic filing and choosing direct deposit is the most secure way to get your refund. Last year, over 2 million Minnesota taxpayers used electronic software to file their taxes. Free electronic filing is available for Minnesotans meeting certain eligibility requirements.

Learn more: Electronic filing and free filing options for those who qualify. You may also qualify for free tax preparation help from IRS-certified volunteers at locations across Minnesota for your federal and state income tax returns. Qualified taxpayers are age 60 or older, have a disability, speak limited or no English, or have income less than $54,000 per year. Most free tax preparation sites are open Feb. 1 - April 15. Visit the website to find free tax preparation sites near you.

More honors for Minnesota

In my last update, I highlighted how USA Today ranked Minnesota the Best Run State in the country. Since then, we’ve been presented with a couple of additional honors. WalletHub.com ranked us the second best state to raise a family. They included several reasons, including measures of median family income and poverty, health and safety, and high-quality schools and child care. This week, Politico named us the second Strongest State in the Union. This report highlighted many areas including unemployment rate, student achievement, life expectancy, home ownership and others.

These are more accolades about which we can be proud, but we can’t rest on our laurels and have a great deal of work yet to do. We must continue to create opportunities for more families to find success, and this includes investing in what we value, like education and health care.

With the legislative session just a few weeks away, I hope you will feel free to be in touch. I always welcome your feedback, questions and ideas, so don’t hesitate to write or call me.

It’s an honor to represent you.

Sincerely,

Erin Koegel

State Representative

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