Dear Friends and Neighbors,
This week at the Capitol, I think I’ve talked more than I ever have on the House Floor. A number of provisions and bills passed that will have a serious impact on all Minnesotans, and I would like to share some of the highlights from this week.
Rep. Dettmer speaks on the House Floor
Senate Legislative Office Building Approved
This week the House and Senate came to an agreement, approving the construction of a new $89.5 million Senate Office Building. This over-the-top, unnecessary building is more costly than the original building while simultaneously eliminating the plan to build additional public parking.
As I’ve stated before, this is an extravagant gift from legislators to themselves, and it comes at the expense of Minnesota taxpayers.
In exchange for House approval of an expensive, wasteful $89.5 million Senate Office Building in St. Paul, Democrats made a back room deal to dramatically raise the minimum wage in Minnesota.
Under the new law passed this week, most employers will be paying $9.50/hr for minimum wage by 2016, with small employers and youth making a lower rate of $7.75/hr. In 2018, minimum wage will be tied to the implicit price deflator with a 2.5 percent cap, meaning minimum wage can continue to rise every year.
I understand the need to raise minimum wage, but this irresponsible increase pushed through in Minnesota comes at the cost of employers and employees, making them pay for an extravagant new palace for politicians in St. Paul.
Bullying Bill Passes House
As an educator for 34 years, a parent and a grandparent, I have serious concerns about House File 826 which Governor Dayton signed into law on Wednesday.
Also known as the Bullying Bill, this legislation forces $25 million in unfunded mandates on schools per year and implements a one size fits all plan on districts that will take time and money out of the classroom.
Some schools are even saying they will have to hire new full time employees to ensure they comply with all the new reporting and enforcement requirements mandated under the bill.
I talked with the Chisago, Stillwater and Forest Lake school districts as well as North Lakes Academy and Lakes International Language Academy, and they all told me the same thing—we do not need this Bullying Bill.
Under current state law all schools are required to have a bullying policy, and this legislation takes away their local control to implement a policy that works for them. Our school districts have great teachers and administrators, enforcing anti-bullying policies that ensure a safe and supportive learning environment for all students.
Parents should also be concerned about this bill. Whether their child is being bullied or accused of being a bully, under this new law, parent notification is not required. Parents deserve to be informed if their child is having problems in school.
While the Bullying Bill is well intentioned, I believe it is a Band-Aid on the bullying problem that will cause headaches for school districts, parents and students.
House File 2233 Amended onto Supplemental Tax Bill
Last week, House File 2233 was amended onto a supplemental tax bill on the House Floor with bipartisan support. The amendment attracts retired veterans with 20 or more years of service to Minnesota by reducing their income for tax purposes by $1500 for every year of service.
Of the 377,000 veterans in Minnesota, this would only affect about 18,000. Incentives to bring these skilled men and women to our state means they bring their families here, buy homes here, work here and pay taxes here. It’s a win for veterans and a win for our state.
Safe Routes to Schools
I am happy to see the American Heart Association showing support for the Safe Routes to School Program in Minnesota. Safe Routes funds infrastructure costs to build sidewalks and bike paths, encouraging exercise and ensuring children get to school safely.
As always, thank you for the honor and privilege of being your state representative.