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

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Legislative Update - May 18, 2018

Friday, May 18, 2018

THIS WEEK IN THE LEGISLATURE

The legislative session must adjourn ‘sine die’ as midnight strikes on Monday, May 21st. From FAQ about the Minnesota Legislature:

Sine die is Latin for "without a day." Adjournment without setting a definite date for meeting again is called adjournment sine die. It signifies the end of a biennial legislative session or a special session.

The Committee on Rules and Legislative Administration has scheduled a meeting to set a Calendar for the Day for May 19, 2018, which means that the House will be on the floor to vote on bills on Saturday (we don't yet know about Sunday).

BONDING BILL PASSED THE HOUSE

On Monday the House passed the bonding bill (HF4404) 84-39. I voted NO on the bill despite funding for the Upper Harbor Terminal Redevelopment project.

Here is my reason why. The bonding bill falls short of Governor Dayton’s request for a $1.5 billion package. The House Republican bonding bill is at $825 million and includes $250 million in trunk highway bonding. This bill gets the State about half the way there and squeezes down $3.3 billion in State agency and local government requests into an inadequate $825 million bill.

HF 4404 under-invests in addressing critical equity needs, including funding for affordable housing ($50 million – Homes for All requested $110 million) and public housing rehabilitation ($10 million – Minnesota Housing Finance Agency requested $30 million); no funding for arterial bus rapid transit, which includes the D-Line to replace Route 5 (Governor Dayton requested $50 million); and no funding for the Stone Arch Bridge, which is at risk of a safety closure this summer due to the scouring of the foundation mortar.

It is my hope that as the bill moves on in the legislative process, an agreement with the Senate and Governor Dayton can be reached to improve the bill.

TAX CONFERENCE COMMITTEE REPORT VETOED

On Tuesday the House passed the Tax Conference Committee report (HF4385). I voted NO on the bill because the Republican majority prioritized tax giveaways for corporations over the needs of our children and working families.

Yesterday Governor Dayton vetoed the tax bill for the reasons below:

"...I would not begin negotiating or sign a tax bill until there is an agreement to fund Emergency School Aid. Instead of working to find common ground, Legislative Leaders have come up with excuse after excuse to ignore this emergency facing Minnesota schools."

"Under this tax bill, a family of four earning the state median income of $65,000 would receive a $92 tax cut from the rate cuts. Under my tax bill, that same family of four would receive a $240 tax cut from the new credit. Furthermore, this bill prioritizes wealthy individual filers with twice the rate cut as low-and middle-income families."

"I am vetoing this bill because of its misguided priorities for corporations and the wealthy over the education of our children. Yet, I remain hopeful that we can come to an agreement in the final days of the Session to fund Emergency School Aid and provide tax cuts that better serve our Minnesota families."

GOVERNOR DAYTON VETO ABORTION ULTRASOUND BILL

On Wednesday Governor Dayton vetoed the abortion ultrasound (SF2849) bill. The Governor cited the reasons below for his veto.

“The bill interferes with the doctor-patient relationship, legislating the private conversations that occur about a legal medical procedure. In addition, providers are already fulfilling their legal, ethical, and professional duties to fully inform their patients of the benefits, risks, and alternatives of any medical procedure. They are the reasons why I join the Minnesota Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Minnesota Section, in opposing this legislation.”

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT: DEDICATED FUNDING FOR TRANSPORTATION PASSED THE HOUSE

Yesterday the House passed a constitutional amendment proposal (HF4437) to dedicate state general sales tax revenue from the sale of motor vehicle repair and replacement parts to roads and bridges.

The following question would appear on the 2018 general election ballot:

“Increase in Road and Bridge Fund by Dedicating Existing Sales Taxes on Motor Vehicles”

Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to increase funding for roads and bridges by dedicating existing sales tax revenue from the sale of motor vehicle parts?

Yes ……

No ……

I voted NO on this proposal. I oppose this bill because it does not include any new revenue and it pits funding transportation against educating students and caring for the elderly and vulnerable. Our General Fund dollars are largely spent on education, health care, and local government aid. A diversion of General Fund dollars without a corresponding new revenue stream would mean we pay for roads and bridges by cutting funding for schools, seniors, and our most vulnerable Minnesotans. This is also effectively a tax increase. By cutting local government aid, municipalities will be forced to increase local taxes, including property taxes, to pay for local services.

Additionally, this bill ignores transit completely. There is no funding for Metro Transit, Metro Mobility, and regular route bus services, despite Metro Transit having a projected structural deficit of $93 million in Fiscal Year 2020-2021. With the metro population projected to grow to 6 million people by 2032, we will not be able to build enough roads and bridges to move people through the metro area efficiently. There is also no funding for Greater MN Transit.

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!