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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Lisa Demuth (R)

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Legislative update

Friday, October 11, 2019

Dear Neighbor,

Best wishes for a speedy recovery go to Michael Canfield, who recently suffered a heart attack while refereeing a Kimball football game. As we continue praying for Mr. Canfield, the numerous citizens who stepped up to render him first aid deserve a major salute. These people were well prepared to respond to medical emergencies and their ability to execute at the most critical of times saved a man’s life. It was truly heroic. Click here for more of the story.

Here are some other recent jottings from the Capitol:

Farmers, business owners face unexpected tax bills

Bad tax law is now costing Minnesota farmers and other business owners thousands of dollars – or, in some reported cases, tens of thousands of dollars. The situation is that anyone who traded in equipment is now having that trade value counted as income – and they can likely expect a bill from the Department of Revenue.

This issue centers on the state’s failure to fully conform to Section 179 – accelerated depreciation – in the federal tax code. Under last session’s law, the Department of Revenue is directed to review Section 179 claims, adjust for new expensing limits, and review any gains or losses from the equipment they traded in.

For a farmer or business owner who traded in farm equipment or other machinery in 2018, and realized a financial gain on that equipment, the Department of Revenue will send a letter to them stating income taxes will now be owed on that gain immediately, while the higher expensing limits will only benefit them over time.

We in the House are working on legislation to clear up this financial hit on farmers. A bill that’s in the works will fully fund conformity to Section 179. It will also cancel any penalties and interest leveled by the revenue department on unpaid debts due to the Section 179 debacle.

This bill should be put on the fast track in the 2020 session. Remember, only a handful of months ago we discussed at great length on the House floor how farmers are facing high stress levels and increased suicide rates. This new and unnecessary financial burden placed on them by the state needs to be resolved ASAP.

Schools receiving safety funding

School districts throughout Minnesota are set to receive a combined $30 million from the state to fund safety initiatives.

The supplemental aid must be used for expenditures as authorized under the Safe Schools Levy. This includes a wide variety of facility and programming purposes such as police liaison services, counseling, school security, drug abuse prevention programs, gang resistance education training and other crime prevention and safety measures for students and staff.

This funding is part of an effort to provide resources throughout the state because the importance of student safety is not bound by ZIP codes. Each district has its own set of circumstances and this equitable approach we used with these dollars allows local citizens and officials to identify their greatest needs and respond accordingly. It is another piece of the puzzle to help keep our kids safe.

The money comes from a one-time Safe Schools Supplemental Aid appropriation in the state’s new education budget. The $30 million will be provided to school districts and charter schools on a per-pupil basis. The appropriations for school districts encompassing our House District 13A include:

                        Students         Safe schools aid

  • Albany            1,778               $61,729
  • Annandale       1,878               $65,202
  • EV-Watkins     954                  $33,139
  • Holdingford    1,087               $37,762
  • Kimball           745                  $25,881
  • Paynesville      932                  $32,369
  • Rocori             2,084               $72,382
  • St. Cloud         9,908               $344,098

H.S. juniors sought for House program

High school juniors are encouraged to seize a rare opportunity to spend a week working behind the scenes at the Capitol as a legislative page.

Applications to the high school page program are now open for the 2019 session, with a Nov. 28 deadline. High school pages attend meetings with legislators, constitutional officers, members of the judiciary and others. Pages also assist members and staff during House floor sessions, participate in mock committee hearings and more. Twelve week-long slots are available from early February until mid-May and stipends are available to defray expenses.

The House’s page program is such a wonderful opportunity I hope local students take advantage of it. We often talk about how today’s students are active learners and the House’s page program is a perfect fit for that approach. The insights pages gain at the Capitol simply can’t be learned from a text book since students literally are in the front row as the legislative process takes place.

The House of Representatives page program has been in place for more than 40 years and Minnesota is one of only a select few states in the nation to offer this program, providing young people with such an in-depth look into state government.

Program participants are selected through a formal process which includes an application, faculty recommendation and an essay. More information is available by clicking here, or by calling (651) 296-4373. Local schools also can provide further assistance.

Have a good weekend and please be safe on the roads … they may be slick.



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