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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Fue Lee (DFL)

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Legislative Update - April 13, 2018

Friday, April 13, 2018

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Neighbors visiting for Building Trades Day at the Capitol

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AFSCME neighbors visiting for child protection workers and Child Welfare Training Academy

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Neighbors visiting for Student Nurses Day at the Capitol

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Neighbors visiting for Howling for Wolves Day at the Capitol  

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Testifiers for my bill HF3859 to fund The TAP so they can continue their work supporting mental health in disability communities through spoken art, community supports, and community engagement

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Speaking with teachers from Education Minnesota on the rising costs of student loan debt

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Presenting my bill HF3300 to create special tax increment financing for the Upper Harbor Terminal in the City of Minneapolis with their staff

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Touring the Vail Uptown Clubhouse with neighbors to discuss their programming around mental health issues

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Joining PYC Arts & Tech High School to their community listening session

THANK YOU FOR JOINING OUR TOWN HALL ON GUN VIOLENCE PREVENTION

Thank you to all our neighbors for joining Senator Bobby Joe Champion, Representative Raymond Dehn, and me on March 31 for a discussion on the issue of gun violence prevention in our community.

We appreciated having Councilmember Jeremiah Ellison, School Board Member Kim Ellison, Minneapolis Deputy Chief of Police Erick Fors, VJ Smith from MAD DADS, and representatives from Councilmember Phillipe Cunningham and Congressman Keith Ellison’s offices.

THIS WEEK IN THE LEGISLATURE

HF 3859 – FUNDING FOR MENTAL HEALTH IN DISABILITY COMMMUNITIES HEARING

On Wednesday, I presented HF 3859 in the Health and Human Services Finance committee. This bill funds The TAP to support mental health in disability communities through spoken art forms, community supports, and community engagement. My bill was laid over for possible inclusion in a larger Health and Human Services Finance bill. I will continue to track the progress of this bill closely.

HF 3300 – SPECIAL TAX INCREMENT FINANCING FOR THE UPPER HARBOR TERMINAL REDEVELOPMENT PROJECT

Yesterday I presented HF 3300 in the Property Tax and Local Government Finance Division. This bill would allow the City of Minneapolis to create one or more redevelopment tax increment financing districts on the Upper Harbor Terminal; provides the City flexibility in structuring tax increment bonds or loans; and allows tax increment to be potentially pooled, or spent outside the boundaries of the TIF district, to pay for public infrastructure like utilities, road construction, and the relocation of power lines.

You can learn more about Tax Increment Financing here.

MARCH GENERAL FUND REVENUE

State general fund revenues were $6 million more than the forecast amounts for February and March of 2018. 

The latest Minnesota Management and Budget information compares actual receipts for February and March of 2018 to receipts forecasted by the February 2018 general fund forecast for the two months.  (The report issued one month ago for February showed February only revenues to be $32 million above the forecast amount so this report shows a negative $26 million for March only.)

The net $6 million positive variance for February and March is the sum of the variances in several areas.  The chart below reflects the forecasted revenue amount, actual revenue and the difference (dollars are in millions). 

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Income tax revenue was $10 million above the forecast.  Within that number income tax withholding payments were up $27 million, miscellaneous tax payments (which includes final payments associated with tax year 2017) were up $27 million and refunds were up $44 million.

In the corporate tax area payments were down $56 million and refunds were down $16 million for a net negative variance of $40 million.

Minnesota Management and Budget’s quarterly Economic Update which has more information on this revenue and on the economy can be found here.

SUPPLEMENTAL BUDGET TARGETS – SHORTCHANGES FOR MINNESOTANS

With five weeks left in session, House Republicans finally announced their supplemental budget targets this week. Instead of investing in the things Minnesotans value, like expanding quality early childhood education and making college more affordable, they’ve indicated plans to continue prioritizing tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy.

This is in stark contrast to Governor Dayton’s supplemental budget proposal, which rolls back tax giveaways for corporations and the wealthy to fund tax cuts for Minnesota families, invest in pre-K across the state, and more.

You can read more about the Republican budget targets from MPR (Dayton wants to boost business taxes to pay for personal tax cuts) and the Pioneer Press (How does House GOP want to spend budget surplus? On tax cuts, roads and bridges).

ATTACKS ON HEALTH CARE

The Republicans continued their attacks on MinnesotaCare this week in the Health and Human Services Finance Committee. During a hearing on the bill HF 2761, the Republicans proposed an amendment that would stop the proposed MinnesotaCare Buy-In option that Governor Dayton has proposed.

My colleague Representative Tina Liebling pointed out the hypocrisy of Republicans attacks on MinnesotaCare, reminding them that they gave insurance companies $800 million in handouts and passed tax cuts for the wealthy last year. All Minnesotans deserve access to affordable quality health care.

MISSING AND MURDERED INDIGENOUS WOMEN TASK FORCE

On Wednesday, the bipartisan bill HF 3375 that I co-authored to create a Governor’s Task Force on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women received a second hearing in the House Public Safety Committee. The bill, chief-authored by Rep. Mary Kunesh-Podein, is a collaboration with members of the DFL Native American Caucus and advocates. It seeks to address the nationwide problem of Native women being victims of violent crime. In some regions of Minnesota, Native women are murdered at rates that are more than 10 times the national average.

The task force will provide analysis regarding the systemic causes behind the number of missing Native American women in the state to law enforcement, policymakers and the public. They will also report annually to the Legislature, providing recommendations to reduce and end violence against Indigenous women and girls in Minnesota, including any proposed legislation that may be needed to confront the problem. You can read more about that hearing and the bill here.

MINNESOTA AFRICAN AMERICAN FAMILY PRESERVATION ACT

On Tuesday, I joined Representative Rena Moran and Senator Jeff Hayden at their news conference where they announced the Minnesota African American Family Preservation Act (HF 3973). There are tremendous racial disparities in how children of color are treated in the child welfare system. This new legislation would improve oversight and better protect the interests of African American children, and promote the stability and security by establishing minimum standards to prevent arbitrary and unnecessary removal of African American children from their families.

You can read the Pioneer Press article here: Black children disproportionately removed from their families; state lawmakers seek fix

DEER PLAN MEETINGS

On Monday, the DNR released the state's first ever draft deer management plan. From DNR's news release:

New plan fosters better understanding of deer management, more citizen input

Comments accepted through May 9; informational meetings begin statewide later this month

Minnesota’s new deer plan sets a new statewide harvest target, increases citizen participation in deer management, and outlines ways to keep the population and habitat healthy.

The Department of Natural Resources is taking online public comments on the new plan now through Wednesday, May 9. Also, the DNR will hold 35 public meetings in April around the state so people can talk to wildlife managers, ask questions and provide input.

Here is a story from MPR News on the deer plan.

According to data from the DNR's Fish and Wildlife Division, Hennepin County issues the most big game, small game, pheasant, and turkey hunting licenses in the state. However, there were no public meetings scheduled in Hennepin or Ramsey County.

On Tuesday Representatives Jamie Becker-Finn, Rick Hansen, and I released the following statement:

 “More white-tail deer hunting licenses are issued in Hennepin County than anywhere else in the state. To hold 35 meetings on deer management across Minnesota, but not hold a single meeting in Hennepin County or Ramsey County ignores a significant number of hunters. If we are truly committed to engaging more people in Minnesota's outdoor traditions and reaching out to people of color, women and younger generations, we must do better than scheduling nearly all of the meetings outside of urban and suburban areas. If we’re going to reverse the decline of those who hunt and fish, we must engage all Minnesotans, especially people of color, new immigrant populations and younger people in the seven-county metro region.”

Here is a story from the Star Tribune on the omission of metro area meetings.

HAPPENING AROUND

CONSTRUCTION HIRING EVENT – MAY 2ND

Construction contractors are hiring for 2018. You are invited to attend this industry-sponsored Hiring Event. Over 30-40 union contractors from both the vertical and heavy highway industry will be present.

WHEN: 7:00 – 10:00 AM; Wednesday, May 2, 2018
WHERE: Carpenter's Training Center

710 Olive Street, St. Paul, MN 55130
Street parking is available

Construction Expo Flyer

I encourage you to contact me with any questions, comments, concerns, or ideas on any legislative topic. Also, I am available during select hours on Monday and Friday mornings most weeks for in-district meetings, if Northside residents aren’t able to make it to the Capitol. If you would like to send me a message or set up an in-district meeting, you can reach me by phone at 651-296-4262 or by email at rep.fue.lee@house.mn. I look forward to hearing from you!

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