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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Kristin Bahner (DFL)

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Legislative Update - Taxes & Cyber Security

Friday, April 8, 2022
Rep. Bahner

Dear Neighbors, 

Things are moving fast at the Minnesota Legislature as we pass supplemental budgets out of committees and move legislation in preparation for passing our House proposals in various issue areas. 

Before I get into the bills that were passed off the House floor recently, I’d like to provide an overview of some of the proposals related to taxes I’ve been working on, as some of you have reached out with questions in response to some blatantly false or misleading information that’s been shared in our community recently. 

So let’s talk taxes!

For those of you who know me, I am admittedly more progressive on social issues but more conservative on fiscal matters - which is to say I believe we must be good stewards of the people’s money, prioritizing the needs of our citizens to make smart investments where needed within a thoughtful and balanced budget.

That said, I have several great tax bills that are worth mentioning: 

  • The (Shuttered Venue Operating Grants) SVOG tax conformity bill that helps small businesses who received these grants to remove any tax burden from them, helping local businesses like the Yellow Tree Theater, or local theater owners Steve and Bryan for the Odyssey Theater Group, who were great partners on this legislation.
  • I have a bill to increase property tax refunds for more Minnesotans by expanding who is eligible, increasing refunds and increasing deductions for seniors and those with disabilities by 1.5 times the current rate to allow them to age in place comfortably while removing burdens on working families dealing with soaring property tax bills.
  • My bill to reduce charitable gaming tax rates for local groups like the Lion’s, the Osseo Fire Department, or OMGHA (Osseo Maple Grove Hockey Association), allowing them to keep more money for their mission. This business-friendly bill helps charities in our community and drives customers to our local business like Malone’s, Maple Tavern, the American Legion, Dick’s and Duffy’s.
  • I’m also supporting the fiscally sound bill to refinance stadium debt and save as much as $54 Million in interest for tax payers, and pay-off our debt early!

These are only a few examples, but his letter is not long enough to keep going.

I know there’s been some misleading information out there, and I think you deserve to know the truth. I have spoken to small businesses in our community and discussed the challenges they face coming out of the pandemic, including the need for tax conformity (which I voted for), and even asking the state to use some of our surplus to help cover their portion of Unemployment Insurance (UI) for small businesses. 

There are two plans in the legislature, with the Senate version being far more costly.  It covers payments for all businesses, big or small, regardless of whether they made millions and billions of dollars during the pandemic and regardless of whether they need help. The House version is smaller and more targeted, as it seeks to cover employer contributions for small to mid-size businesses, and in particular aid those coming out of the pandemic who may still be struggling and need more time to get back on their feet.  This proposal also aids both small businesses and workers (previously agreed to by the Senate), at the same time.

To cut to the point, here’s how some of my recent conversations on where I stand on taxes have gone:

Q: Did you vote to raise taxes by 30% on small businesses?  

A: No!

Q: Do you favor a bill that would help replenish the UI (Unemployment Insurance) Fund?  

A: Absolutely! I support targeted relief to help small to mid-size businesses lower their expected UI contribution. This means small Main Street businesses in our community like Duffy’s, Malone’s, K&Co, or childcare businesses are looked after, just to name a few.

Q: If that is true, why am I hearing that you favor raising taxes on small businesses, what gives?  

A: What I do not support is irresponsible bills that provide blanket relief using taxpayer dollars to giant corporations that made millions during the pandemic, such as the Senate version of the bill. This is fiscally irresponsible and not a good use of taxpayer dollars when we CAN target small businesses in our communities that truly need the relief. More importantly from a fiscal perspective, this is a waste of tax dollars for folks that don’t need it when we have priorities in our local community that actually need funding - like childcare, affordable healthcare and mental health or education. We cannot say we want to be fiscally responsible and then act irresponsibly, that is not good common sense.

This is a nuanced issue, but I always appreciate talking with our neighbors about how we can stretch taxpayer dollars effectively and responsibly. I believe that’s at the core of this job, so please feel free to reach out with any questions you may have!

And now for the latest at the legislature:



Preparing Minnesota for Cyber Attacks

Outside the legislature, I am an IT professional with over 20 years of experience in software development, project management and team building. You may also be aware of my role on the Technical Advisory Council on IT and as Vice Chair of the newly formed Legislative Commission on it. In short, I take protecting our state infrastructure, services, data and the privacy of our citizens very seriously, and even that is putting it mildly. This is one of my passions.

In my business and in the world recently, cyber security has come into the spotlight with cyber attacks on the Virginia Legislature designed to disrupt state government, the City of Atlanta spending millions in clean-up and lost services to citizens, and the hacking of the Minnesota Senate website. We have also seen cyber attacks take center stage with attacks on the Colonial Pipeline increasing prices at the pump, and the shutting down of a plant in Worthington, Minnesota - the second largest meat processing company in the nation - placing strain on your grocery budget, costing lost wages for employees, and lost profits. It is not IF a cyber attack will occur, but WHEN, and the state technology services for getting your driver's tabs, applying for nutrition assistance, registering your business online, or paying your taxes more attractive targets for would be hackers.

Minnesota and other states have received FBI and Department of Homeland Security warnings that state-sponsored hackers in Russia have openly threatened to attack people or institutions that oppose them on the Ukraine invasion. These threats are real and tangible.

In order to prepare our state, I’ve authored nation-leading legislation that is bi-partisan in both the House and Senate to designate IT infrastructure as critical infrastructure. This action allows us to act quickly in the event of a cyber attack to partner with agencies like the FBI and Homeland Security, and allows us to receive disaster relief funding to recover should one occur. As Vice Chair of the Legislative Commission on Cybersecurity, I am proud to say this bill is a first step to cyber preparedness and I am grateful to aid Minnesota in being a leader in the nation on this issue.

You can watch my opening remarks during the bill’s State Government Committee hearing below, and read more about the issue here. In addition, watch in the coming weeks for a segment on CCX on News Makers to learn more as well.

Committee Hearing


Assisting Small Breweries & Distilleries

A perennial favorite at the legislature every biennium is the Liquor Bill, which as the name suggests updates the state laws around beer, wine, and spirits. Past versions of this legislation led to the brewery boom we saw throughout the state and legalized Sunday sales. This year, I’m co-authoring this legislation and pushing for changes like raising the growler cap (which expands the amount of growlers a brewery can sell), providing more flexibility on container sizes (which directly benefits local business like Omni Brewing here in Maple Grove), and updating the statutes on our cideries. 

I believe we have a good chance to pass these reforms this year and want to thank all of you who have written to me on this issue. I heard you, as a co-author I support the bill and intend to vote yes on the House floor!

You can read more about the Liquor Bill, and the debate around it, here



Standing Up for Ukraine

For over a month we have seen harrowing images from Ukraine as Russia continues their violent invasion. In what has been a conflict of ever-growing atrocities, my heart goes out to the Ukrainian people, including the 17,000 Ukrainian-Americans who call Minnesota home. 

In a broad bipartisan move, legislators representing the four main caucuses in the Minnesota Legislature introduced a bill to divest Minnesota’s state pension fund from Russia and codify Governor Walz’s Executive Order barring the state from contracting with Russian companies. It passed unanimously in both chambers last month and has been signed into law.


Prior to the invasion of Ukraine, the estimated worth of Minnesota's state pension fund investments in Russia was approximately $53 million. Due to the current volatility of Russia’s economy, it’s estimated to have fallen below $10 million. The new law will also sanction Belarus for its complicity in the Russian invasion.

Passing this bill was the right thing to do, and in joining numerous other democracies in a similar action, Minnesota is standing with Ukraine and adding to the international pressure that will hopefully soon lead to peace.

You can read more about this legislation here



Discussing Public Safety

Thank you to everyone that joined us for our recent Public Safety Town Hall. A special shout out to Commissioner Anderson and House Public Safety Committee Vice Chair Frazier for contributing to the discussion of how we can improve public safety in our community and state. If you weren’t able to join us live, you can still catch the discussion below, and please feel free to reach out if you have any questions on this issue. 

Public Safety


Supporting Hometown Heroes

Last year, Minnesota was ranked 45th in the nation when it comes to investing in the fire service, which is an unacceptable place to be when it comes to supporting the Minnesotans who keep us safe. I have been a vocal champion for the bill we passed last year, which took steps to address that by investing in the Hometown Heroes Assistance Program, but we need to do more and I have made that commitment to our Fire Chiefs. I am extremely grateful for their input and support on this journey.

Last month, legislation I co-authored to update the program passed the Minnesota House. Our firefighters face alarmingly high incidences of cancer, cardiac issues, and emotional trauma. The bill we passed provides firefighters access to education, prevention, and care to address cardiac conditions, emotional trauma or cancer diagnoses. The Hometown Heroes Assistance Program is the most comprehensive of its kind in the nation, and provides firefighters with free access to emotional trauma resources, up-to-$20,000 from critical illness insurance policies, and ongoing health and wellness training.

You can read more about this program here



The Latest on COVID-19 Boosters & Vaccines

Last week, the FDA authorized a second booster shot for Americans over 50 and for those 12 years and older who are immunocompromised. Following the FDA’s announcement, the CDC expanded eligibility for an additional booster dose for certain higher risk individuals. Second boosters for all Americans will be evaluated. You can read more from the U of M Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) here.

Considering dropping COVID-19 numbers, Minnesota is changing its testing strategy and gradually moving away from saliva tests toward rapid at-home tests. Minnesota households are now eligible to receive two test kits (for a total of four tests) through the mail, which you can order at Minnesota has secured 500,000 test kits (for a total of 1 million at-home tests) and the program will be available until all the test kits are ordered. You can also order additional free rapid at-home tests from the federal government at

With the lessons we’ve learned over the last two years, Minnesota is well-positioned to respond effectively if case counts tick upward again. While we all hope to avoid another wave, testing continues to be important for preventing the spread of the virus. Getting a test is still recommended if you:

  • have symptoms of the virus.
  • have had close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
  • are returning from international or domestic travel.
  • attended a high-risk event.
  • work in a setting that has regular, close contact with many people



Stay Connected

Next week is the legislature’s Easter and Passover break, which provides a nice respite before the final whirlwind weeks of session. If you have any questions or comments about our work, now is a great time to reach out. 

You can contact me at 651-296-1761 or It’s an honor to represent our community, and I look forward to hearing from you!



Kristin Bahner

Your State Representative