It’s been quite the interesting week in St. Paul. Yesterday, we started hearing our large budget bills on the House floor. It seems like the pieces from the first couple months are falling into place, and we’re seeing things really come together. Tax relief, job growth and transportation needs highlight my week.
Middle Class Tax Relief
Yesterday, we passed the Omnibus Tax Bill to provide $1.35 billion in tax relief targeted at middle class Minnesotans. Minnesota has a budget surplus, and we should be giving our residents needed relief on their taxes.
The bill provides relief for seniors citizens by increasing the income limit thresholds for the taxation of social security income, relief for college students through a tax credit for student loan payments and college savings plans, relief for farmers by reducing the burden they pay for school bond referendums, relief for working families through modifications of the child and dependent care credit, and relief for small business owners by exempting the first $200,000 in property value from the extra tax on businesses.
I’ll keep you updated as this bill is negotiated with the Senate and Governor.
One of my committees is the Job Growth and Energy Affordability Committee. This week, we did lots of work to get our budget bill ready for the House floor.
A major component of this bill relates to the IRRRB. As you know, I’ve been working hard since taking office to ensure the board meets constitutional standards, and is more transparent and responsive to the needs of our area. My reforms cleared a big hurdle as they were included in the House Omnibus Jobs Bill. We’ll be hearing this bill soon on the House floor, and I look forward to advocating for these needed changes to help the Iron Range.
Local glass dealers in the Grand Rapids area alerted me to a bill with insurance adjuster language that would result in an unfair competitive advantage to one large company over the many small businesses in the state. I was able to write and pass an amendment and work with the author of the bill to remove that provision from the overall omnibus bill before passage.
I, along with Rep. Dave Baker of Willmar, advocated for broadband funding in our state and were successful in getting a line item in the final bill. State funding has played an important role in improving broadband connections in our area, and I'm hopeful any final agreement on this bill includes sufficient broadband funding for unserved and underserved areas throughout Greater Minnesota.
Roads and Bridges
Today the House passed a $2.1 billion Omnibus Transportation Bill without raising additional taxes. This is done by capturing revenue from existing auto-related sales tax streams. The emphasis is on roads and bridges, laying the framework for a 10-year, $6 billion transportation funding plan. In addition to increased funding for counties and municipalities, the bill would fund the entire MnDOT local bridge list (97 bridges).
Duluth/St. Louis County Days
The Duluth Chamber of Commerce and its many partners do a great job featuring Northeast Minnesota in Duluth Days at the Capitol. The event, held this week, was well-attended and I caught up with many friends and colleagues there. I even got a picture with Champ the bulldog!
Among the many visitors this week, I was fortunate once again to meet up with many from our district including an energetic discussion with FFA students from both Grand Rapids and Deer River. Another fun group (pictured here) included students from the Blackberry Church School.
Kyle Hedlund, Executive Director of Grand Village was at the Capitol to talk about reimbursement rates for nursing home workers and funding for scholarships.
If you have any questions or just want to share your ideas, please call or email my office; I enjoy hearing from you.
Enjoy your weekend!