Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Here is an update from the Capitol.
Education Omnibus Bill
On Saturday, the House passed its student-focused Education Omnibus Bill which will increase statewide biennial per pupil funding by an average of $179 and implement meaningful reform to improve education in Minnesota.
Some of the highlights of the Education Omnibus Bill include:
As a former educator, I know that next to parent involvement, teacher effectiveness has the greatest impact on student learning. I am pleased that our Education Omnibus Bill, in addition to increasing education spending by over $1 billion, also implements research-based reforms that will help ensure every child is receiving a world-class education.
Additionally, when this bill goes to conference committee between the House and Senate, I will be working to get transportation sparsity funding for District 831 included in the final bill. Because the Forest Lake School District is so large (about 200 sq. mi), the district's busing budget is short more than a million dollars. I will continue to advocate for a provision to cover the gap in bus funding for our district.
Public Safety Omnibus Bill
On Monday, the House passed the Public Safety Omnibus Bill with strong bipartisan support. This legislation also includes my bill for state employees assaulted by inmates to be provided continued insurance contributions. This would apply to people whose injuries resulted in being totally or permanently disabled. While this change to law would affect a very small number of people, I think it’s important to ensure these state employees who were injured in the line of work are covered.
Tax Omnibus Bill
On Wednesday, the House passed the Tax Omnibus Bill which will provide $2 billion in tax relief to middle class families, veterans, seniors, job creators and college students.
As the Chair of the Veterans Committee and as a long-time advocate of exempting military pension from income tax, I am particularly thrilled that this bill provides relief to Minnesota veterans, earmarking $51.6 million to exclude up to $20,000 of veterans pensions as taxable income.
Also of note, the House voted on an amendment related to Governor Dayton's gas tax increase which was unanimously voted down. The bill will now head to conference committee for final negotiations between the House and Senate.
Sunday Liquor Sales Vote
Also on Monday, the House voted on an amendment to the Omnibus Liquor Bill which would have allowed municipalities and local governments to decide whether or not to allow local liquor stores to sell alcohol on Sundays. It was voted down 57-75.
I supported the amendment because I believe this is an issue that is better determined at the local level than by state government. Some communities may decide Sunday sales work for them while others may decide not to enact the change.
As always, thank you for the honor and privilege of being your state representative. If I can ever be of assistance to you or your family on a matter of state government, please don't hesitate to contact me.