This session I’m working on a pair of bills that will not only benefit the spouses of disabled veterans but also their county of residence. This is a way to continue honoring the sacrifices made by our veterans and allow counties to put more expensive properties back on their books.
Under current law, the spouse of a veteran who is 100 percent disabled receives the benefit of a property tax exclusion for eight years. My legislation, House File 204, would extend that benefit for as long as the spouse lives in that house.
My second provision, House File 205, would allow a disabled veteran’s spouse a one-time home sale with the opportunity to continue their property tax exclusion at their new home.
For example, let’s say a veteran’s spouse lives in a large home on a farm and is looking to downsize into a townhome. Under my bill the county would be able to reinstate property taxes on this more expensive home, while the spouse would continue the exclusion on the townhome. Ultimately it’s a net gain in property tax collection for the county, and in some cases it could be a very big net gain.
Trent Dilks, Legislative Chairman of the Disabled American Veterans of Minnesota, stopped by recently to discuss these bills and I'm pleased he has given them his support.
CAREER OPTIONS FOR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS
Though our economy is strong and unemployment is low, there are many employment opportunities available in various job sectors. Unfortunately, many current high school students are unaware that they exist.
To rectify this, I am sponsoring legislation (House File 213) that’s intended to inform high school students about these career options and connect them with job providers, and it will be heard in the Veterans and Military Affairs Finance and Policy Division on Tuesday.
We have a situation where we have good paying career opportunities available, yet their representatives aren’t able to get into the schools to make their pitch. We need to make it easier for military recruiters, skilled trades and manufacturing representatives to speak to students and discuss their options.
The proposal contains a number of provisions designed to improve a student’s knowledge about these career alternatives, including requiring school districts to give representatives of the Armed Forces, skilled trades and manufacturing the same access to students that are granted to colleges.
A four-year degree is not the answer for everyone, and isn’t necessarily the only way to find financial success in your career. The demand for jobs in these three areas is great, and I believe it’s important for high school students to know that these high-salaried job opportunities exist.
DISTRACTED DRIVING BILLS
Hearings are also being scheduled for distracted driving bills I’m carrying. House File 104 increases penalties on those found guilty of not paying attention to the road, and House File 492 establishes a misdemeanor for traffic violations that cause great bodily harm or death to someone.
Last year an 11-year-old died in Chisago County after being struck by a driver who had gone through a stop sign. The driver’s only punishment was a fine for a stop sign violation. My bill would ensure drivers would at least have to make a court appearance if they caused someone’s death or serious injury.
I’m also sponsoring a bill that would designate a portion of Highway 95 as Corrections Officer Joseph Gomm Memorial Highway. It will be heard in our transportation committee on Tuesday.
PAID FAMILY LEAVE
This week, our labor committee heard a bill on paid family leave. This bill would raise taxes on every working Minnesotan and their employer, and create an expensive bureaucracy that’s likely to be used by less than two percent of Minnesota’s workforce. Worse, the bill sponsors have no idea how high they would raise your taxes to pay for the program – meaning they’re pushing forward a bill with no idea of cost. Thousands of Minnesotans already enjoy better benefits than are offered in this bill, and if it passed those benefits would likely disappear.
Senator Housley and I will be holding town meetings in February and I encourage you to attend.
The first town hall meeting will be held in Stillwater at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, February 13 at the Stillwater Public Library (224 Third Street North, Stillwater, MN 55082). Attendees can park free of charge in the library parking ramp and take the elevator up to the Margaret Rivers Room on the upper level (UL).
A second town hall meeting will be held in Forest Lake at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, February 20 at Forest Lake Area High School (6101 Scandia Trail N, Forest Lake, MN 55025). The meeting will be held in the high school library and media center.
As session moves forward, I’d like to hear from as many of you as I can about your legislative priorities. You can contact me anytime by phone at 651-296-4124 or by email at email@example.com.
Have a good weekend,