Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The 2016 legislative session officially ended on Sunday night with a number of successes for Minnesotans and several disappointments too. Here is an update from the Capitol.
By far, the biggest accomplishment of this year was the bipartisan tax relief legislation that we sent to Governor Dayton. If Governor Dayton does not veto the bill, Minnesotans will see more than $800 million in tax relief over the next three years including more than half a billion in ongoing and permanent tax relief.
Highlights of tax relief passed this year include:
- Exempting veteran military retirement pay from state income tax. This is tax relief that is long overdue for those that have served our country in our armed forces
- Agriculture property tax relief for Minnesota farmers
- A first-in-the-nation student loan tax credit for college graduates for a refundable credit up to $1,000
- Tax relief for families saving for college with a 529 Savings Plan
- Property tax relief for small businesses, exempting the first $100,000 of commercial-industrial property from the statewide business property tax.This provision does not affect locally collected property tax
- Expanding the working family and child care tax credits for Chisago County families
- A new market tax credit provision. I was able to successfully add an amendment allowing low commercial industrial tax cities, like many in Chisago County, to take part in this new program. The bill was previously limited to low-income census tracts but had no provisions for communities with a low commercial-industrial tax base
Tax relief was a top priority for the hardworking taxpayers of Chisago County, and I am pleased an agreement was reached between the House and Senate. I am hoping Governor Dayton will sign the bills into law.
Opioid Pharmacy Take-Back Bill
The House and Senate passed my bipartisan bill allowing Minnesota pharmacies to voluntarily take back unused and expired prescription drugs and controlled substances, and Governor Dayton signed the bill into law earlier this week.
When people are able to drop off unneeded or expired medication at their neighborhood pharmacy, it's less likely that they will be sold for profit or used illegally with dangerous consequences. This is a great step to combat opioid abuse in our state, and I am pleased it has become Minnesota law, but understand much more work needs to be done on this issue. Too many communities are in crisis because of the opioid epidemic. It needs to stop.
Deer Management Study
The nonpartisan Minnesota Office of the Legislative Auditor (OLA) did a study on the Department of Natural Resources' (DNR) deer population management, looking at where the agency is successful and where it has fallen short. One of the takeaways from the report is that the DNR should come up with a more formalized deer management plan to clearly lay out their objectives, goals and processes.
I know this was an interest area to many people in Chisago County, especially deer hunters, and you can read the report and summary here.
Happy Memorial Day
I would like to wish everyone a Happy Memorial Day! Whether you are traveling or plan to stay in Chisago County, I hope you have a safe and fun holiday. And while you may be celebrating with barbeques or other fun events, please do not forget the true meaning of Memorial Day and the sacrifices American men and women have made serving our country.
Happy Memorial Day.