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Legislative News and Views - Rep. John Heinrich (R)

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Legislative Update from Rep. Heinrich

Friday, May 31, 2019

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Last Friday, the legislature convened for a one-day special session to pass the state’s budget for the next two years. After going through the night, the special session adjourned early Saturday morning as both legislative bodies approved a budget to be sent to the governor.

Serving our community at the Capitol has been an incredible honor that I truly enjoy, but with the late nights and legislative session now over, it's been great spending more time with my family again!

While I was disappointed a special session was necessary, I was especially disappointed that the main holdup causing it was Democrats’ unwillingness to drop their $12 billion tax increases for so long. Thankfully, the final budget does not include this massive tax hike in its entirety.

That said, it’s unfortunate that the budget fails to phase out the sick tax – a tax on nearly all healthcare services in Minnesota. This tax was set to disappear at the end of 2019, and reinstating it is projected to add around $2 billion to the cost of Minnesotans’ healthcare. This tax makes healthcare more expensive and I believe not doing away with it was a big missed opportunity this year.

On the other hand, there were a number of good things that came out of this session. The final budget isn’t perfect, but Republicans held firm and we were able to avoid many of the countless bad policies and tax hikes that were considered this year.

Positives of the 2019 session include:

  • No Gas Tax: We prevented all of the proposed transportation tax increases, including the 70 percent increase to the gas tax, vehicle sales tax, and license tab fees.
    • The auto parts sales tax revenue that the state is already collecting will continue to be dedicated to roads and bridges. This fund provides our state with the money we need to fund safe and efficient transportation infrastructure. Higher gas taxes were never necessary to fund our transportation priorities.
  • No Nursing Home Cuts: Republicans fought Democrat-backed efforts to cut $68 million from nursing homes. These cuts would have devastated budgets for nursing facilities and harmed care for aging Minnesotans.
  • No Gun Control: Thanks to bipartisan opposition in the House and Senate, none of the extreme gun control proposals survived in the final budget agreement.
  • First income tax rate cut in 20 years: The tax bill lowered the second-tier rate from 7.05% to 6.8% beginning in 2019, allowing most Minnesotans to keep more of their hard-earned money.
  • No Planned Parenthood Curriculum: The radical and controversial sexual education requirements from Planned Parenthood in the original education bill have been defeated.

Local Transportation Projects

One of my top priorities as a legislator is road and bridge infrastructure, especially local transportation projects. This year I authored legislation and successfully advocated for the authorization of a preliminary study for a bridge crossing over the Mississippi River between I-94 in Dayton and Highway 10 in Ramsey. This represents the first step in hopefully getting a bridge constructed someday, which is an exciting possibility for our communities. A river crossing would have a major impact on our area and would help alleviate the bottleneck drivers currently face in this spot.

In addition, I will continue working to secure funding for the Highway 47/Ferry Street railroad overpass as well as for the expansion of Highway 10 to three lanes in both directions (between Hanson Blvd and Round Lake Blvd). Both of these projects will improve safety, allow for easier and faster travel, and boost our local economy. I pushed hard for them this year, but unfortunately the legislature did not pass a bonding bill this session. With no bonding bill, most local infrastructure projects like these didn’t receive any state funding this year. However, next session is a non-budget year in which bonding will be a bigger focus, and I am optimistic we can fund these important projects when that time comes.

I’m proud of the progress and in roads I made this year as I worked with legislative colleagues and staff, local officials, and MNDOT officials on these projects. These projects have bipartisan support in St. Paul and I’m committed to again working hard to get them done next session.

Process/Transparency Concerns

The process that unfolded at the end of session this year was incredibly disappointing. Almost all the decisions were made behind closed doors by just the governor and two legislative leaders. This removed the process of transparency, leaving other legislators and the public uninformed and without a voice. This process should be publicly carried out by all 201 legislators from around the state who have been elected by Minnesotans to do just this.

Minnesotans deserve a more transparent, accountable government and I’m hopeful this process will improve going forward. It’s important we consider reforms to this process so this doesn’t become the new norm for future legislative sessions.

Please Contact Me

Please feel free to contact me anytime to share questions or concerns you have on any legislative matter. I can be reached at 651-296-1729 or rep.john.heinrich@house.mn.

Sincerely,

John

 

 

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