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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Sandy Layman (R)

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News From Representative Layman 5-4-2018

Friday, May 04, 2018

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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Much of our week in St. Paul was spent on the floor debating, often late into the evening, and passing all of our supplemental budget bills. These ranged from taxes to health and human services to public safety. With these passed, we’ll start the process of working out the differences between our bills and what the Senate passed.

It’s a fascinating time to be involved as compromises are struck and final decisions made and I’m honored to be a voice for our area.

Bonding Projects

The last major bill we introduced this week was our bonding proposal.

The House proposes to issue $825 million in General Obligation (GO) bonds. More than two-thirds of the funds are dedicated toward brick-and-mortar projects. That includes:

  • $364 million for asset preservation such as state-owned buildings
  • $120 million for road and transportation infrastructure
  • $153 million for water and conservation projects

Prior to the session, the House Capital Investment Committee traveled throughout the state to visit more than 100 potential projects last summer, many of which are included in the House proposal. Minnesotans expect us to maintain public infrastructure, following the simple notion that we should take care of the property we own. With this bill, we are addressing the important needs of our cities and state, while respecting the taxpayers.

Last year, I hosted the Capital Investment Committee in our area to show them some of the deserving bonding projects I hoped to see funded. The great news is three local initiatives are in line to receive funding. The first is from a bill I authored that would allocate $1 million to the city of Cohasset to match other funding to complete the Tioga Recreational area. A second funds radio infrastructure through Itasca County that is critical to the continuation of Northern Community Radio based in Grand Rapids. And, finally, Deer River’s waste water project would receive a direct grant of $750,000 through the Jobs Omnibus Bill passed last night and is in line to receive funding through the Public Facilities Authority in FY2020.

We’ll discuss this bonding bill on the floor in the coming days, but it’s an encouraging first step to have these projects included in our legislation.

As negotiations proceed, I will continue to advocate for local bonding projects, including the IRA Civic Center repair and expansion and the Grand Rapids Armory renovation.   

Tax Conformity

We met one of our key priorities this week when we passed our tax bill which helps conform our state to the federal tax code. Our proposal cuts taxes for 2.1 million Minnesota filers, and provides the first income tax rate reduction since 2000. This bill makes filing taxes easier for next year, and simplifies the tax code in Minnesota. This bill passed with bipartisan support, and I hope to see it signed into law later this session.

Broadband Funding

Yesterday, we passed an omnibus bill that contained $15 million of rural broadband funding for our state. I carried the broadband funding bill in the House, and can’t say how pleased I am to have this funding included in our bill. Throughout my years in economic development, one of the biggest hurdles I’ve seen for many in rural Minnesota has been a lack of access to fast, reliable, broadband internet. It’s encouraging to see progress in this area as we try to expand broadband throughout Greater Minnesota.

Legacy Bill Passes Unanimously

On Wednesday, we passed the Legacy Omnibus Bill, HF4167, on a unanimous vote of 128-0.

Legacy funding comes from proceeds of a constitutionally dedicated sales tax passed by Minnesota voters in 2008 for clean water, arts, and cultural heritage projects. In total, the bill invests $141.646 million to restore, protect, and enhance natural resources, improve water quality, and to preserve Minnesota's history and cultural heritage.

As Vice Chair of the Legacy Committee, I’m especially pleased to see unanimous support for our bill. For me, one of the highlights is having my legislation to honor women’s right to vote included in our final bill. The year 2020 will mark the 100th anniversary of this momentous occasion, and now our state can honor this pivotal moment in history by highlighting and celebrating some of the Minnesota women who played a role in giving women the right to vote.

Twin Metals Announcement

News came out on Wednesday that the U.S. Interior Department reinstated the mineral rights leases for Twin Metals' copper-nickel mine. This is welcomed news for the mining community and for our region as a whole. Twin Metals can continue to explore potential mining in our state meaning we could see lots of job growth and economic development. I’ll continue to advocate for the mining industry as we work toward revitalizing responsible mining in Minnesota.

National Day of Prayer

Yesterday, my Senate and House colleagues came together on the steps of the Capitol to observe the National Day of Prayer. I am so grateful to live in a state and a country where we have the freedom to bow before our God and seek his blessing as we endeavor to do the work of the people. 

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Please Contact Me

Just over two weeks remain in the legislative session, and I have a feeling it’s going to fly by. Please contact me about any topic we’re discussing, or an issue that’s important to you.

Enjoy your weekend,

Sandy