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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Bob Dettmer (R)

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Session Highlights from Rep. Bob Dettmer

Wednesday, June 7, 2017
Dear Friends,
I am pleased to say that Governor Dayton has signed all of our budget bills into law. I have detailed the main provisions of some of these bills below, which are now in state statute.
Tax Relief
Our tax bill will provide $650 million in tax relief for our middle class, including senior citizens on fixed incomes, families saving for college, small businesses, and more. Specifics tax relief provisions include:
  • $117 million in relief for Minnesota’s senior citizens. Under this bill, nearly 284,000 senior citizen tax returns (single and married filing jointly) would receive tax reductions; 72,000 of those would no longer pay state income tax on their benefits.
  • $36 million for families with young children by modifying the child and dependent care credit.
  • $95 million in relief for hometown businesses by exempting the first $100,000 in property value from the extra tax on businesses and freezing its automatic inflator.
Transportation Funding
Last week I also touched on the fact that our transportation bill invests a huge amount into a 10 year plan to repair and build roads and bridges around the state. Again, this is the largest transportation funding package we have ever passed in Minnesota without raising the gas tax or license tab fees. Transportation bill specifics included:
  • $25 million to fund over 97 bridges on MNDOT's priority list
  • Statewide investment in roads: $102 million in trunk highway, $48 million for counties, $15 million for cities.
  • Ensuring that state funding will not be used to cover for operating costs of the proposed Southwest Light Rail.
Education Funding and Reforms
In the education bill that we negotiated with Governor Dayton was $1.35 billion in new education funding, including an increase in the per pupil funding formula of 2 percent each year of the coming biennium. For the Forest Lake School District, this will mean a total increase of more than $1,881,000 over the next two years.
Other education bill provisions included:
  • Focus all new scholarship funding to Pathway I scholarships which go directly to help families choose quality early education programs that best fit their budget, schedule and child’s needs.
  • Continue Minnesota’s nation-leading mixed delivery system of quality early education programming and scholarships.
  • Provide $50 million in additional one-time funding to allow districts to develop early learning programs that best fit the needs of their students and families, choosing from either voluntary pre-kindergarten or school readiness plus which allows for more flexibility.
  • Overhauls our broken teacher licensure system, replacing the troubled Board of Teaching with a new Professional Educator License and Standards Board following recommendations by the Office of the Legislative Auditor and Teacher Licensing Work Group.
  • Continues efforts to strengthen teacher recruitment and retention, funding innovative programs including Grow Your Own, alternative teacher preparation, teacher loan forgiveness programs, and agriculture educator grants.
  • Repeal the “last in, first out” default in state statute to allow schools and local bargaining units to negotiate mutually beneficial staff retention decisions that better serve students, teachers and schools.
  • Protect kids by permitting school districts to provide child sexual abuse prevention instruction.
  • Protect kids’ health by requiring school districts to test for the presence of lead in water of public school buildings.
  • Create a new, targeted academic achievement initiative that funds before school, afterschool and summer programs to help low-income students who are falling behind their grade-level peers.
Veterans Provisions
Our State Government Finance bill included several veteran’s provisions. Here is a brief video from the last evening of session that details these measures:
The Veterans Affairs Committee worked hard to address the concerns of our veterans community. I’m grateful for the great and innovative ideas put forward by House committee members from both sides of the aisle, and for the many hours that House staff put into making this session a success for our committee. I’d also like to thank the many people who came to testify before our committee in favor and against the bills we heard; it was truly a wonderful example of democracy at work.
Capitol Renovation Grand Opening
The State Capitol will have its Grand Opening Celebration this summer, on August 11th, 12th, and 13th. This event will be open to the public and will entail many exciting opportunities to come and see our gorgeous restored Capitol and learn about our state’s great history. I will include more details as they become available, but mark your calendars for August.
As always, it is such an honor to represent our district at the Capitol. I am so pleased to be back home in our community to spend some time with family and talking to many of you about what we were able to accomplish this session. I hope to see you soon.