Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Welcome back to the legislative session! We just finished up our second week of legislative action, and we’re seeing big strides already made. Now that we’re in session, I’ll send my updates on a more regular basis in order to keep you informed. As always, please call or email if you have questions about any topics below.
On Wednesday, we learned the state is projected to have a $329 million budget surplus. This shows that our responsible state budget, combined with overdue tax reform, have helped create an economic environment in our state that continues to grow. Allowing Minnesotans to keep more of their hard-earned paychecks is proving to be an important step in helping the state remain financially sound.
Now that we know what the state’s budget forecast looks like, we can start to work more on some of our larger bills.
Recently, I introduced bills relating to bonding requests for the Grand Rapids IRA Civic Center, the Grand Rapids Armory, Deer River water improvements, Tioga Recreation Area trail, and radio infrastructure for Itasca County. Though we do have a surplus, we have to be prudent in how we craft a potential bonding bill. There’s lots of worthy projects, and I hope to see some from our area make any final proposal.
Yesterday, I joined other legislators and stakeholders at a joint press conference to unveil a bill related to ride sharing. Up until a few weeks ago, I hadn’t used a service like Uber or Lyft. Now that I have, I see it as a viable transportation option we can utilize in Greater Minnesota. My bill creates uniform statewide standards so these companies don’t have to follow a patchwork set of rules if they take a passenger from one city to another.
I’ve written before about the state’s new licensing system, MNLARS, and the numerous problems facing this initiative. One issue we see is that MNLARS negatively impacts public and private registrars around the state, making them lose business. To remedy this situation, I signed onto a bill that would reimburse deputy registrars around the state for overtime wages and foregone revenues directly associated with the implementation of the new vehicle registration system.
Lastly, I’m working on several bills directed at reducing undue regulation and taxation of our local industries including chief authoring a bill to provide an occupation tax credit to taconite plants that did not qualify for the commercial/industrial tax credit passed in last year’s tax reform bill, and co-authoring legislation to nullify and restrict application of wild rice water quality standards that ignore current science.
The early part of the legislative session is when we’re fortunate to have meetings with residents of our districts. This week was a great example of the devoted civic interaction in our area; there were so many engaged groups!
I enjoyed seeing familiar faces (Marty Niewind, Scott Stoltenberg, Dale Juntunen, Steve Wilson and Al Lauer) representing the Builders Association of Minnesota.
On Wednesday, I met with student council members from the Northern Lights Community School in Warba. They came prepared with a number of great questions and were clearly interested in what we were discussing in St. Paul.
Please Contact Me
If you’re unable to make the trip to St. Paul in the coming months, please call or email my office to share your ideas and opinions. We’re discussing a wide array of topics, and it helps me be a better representative for our area if I hear from you.
Enjoy your weekend,