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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Mary Franson (R)

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End of Session Legislative Update

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Greetings from the Capitol!

The 2017 Legislative Session came to an official close Tuesday evening as the Governor signed the budget into law.

Unfortunately, the bill I authored to increase penalties for parents/guardians who subject their girls to female gentile mutilation was never voted on in the Senate despite only having 4 dissenting votes in the House. Even with this disappointment, I will continue to be a voice on the issue in hopes of getting the bill passed by the Senate and signed into law during the 2018 session, so we can finally give these little girls the protection they deserve.

Break Down Of The Budget:

Taxes: The tax bill provides $650 million in tax relief over the next two years (2018-2019) and $790 million in 2020-2021; the largest tax relief package in almost 20 years!

  • Nearly 284,000 senior citizens will receive tax reductions; 72,000 of those will no longer pay any state income tax on their social security benefits.
  • A family of four making $50,000 a year will receive an additional $1,200 toward their child care expenses.
  • 65,000 students will receive an average of a $414 reduction in their taxes through a new tax credit for student loan payments.
  • Every Minnesota business owner will see relief from an “extra” business tax.
  • 240,000 farmers will receive property tax relief to reduce their disproportionate share of school district levy costs.

The tax bill also provides a $15 million statewide increase for Local Government Aid and a $25.5 million statewide increase for County Program Aid to help local governments pay for essential services.

Transportation: The transportation budget prioritizes Minnesota’s need of road and bridge repairs and improvements responsibly by using existing revenue sources. In the next two years alone, an additional $300 million will be invested in the state’s transportation infrastructure with an additional $16 million for small cities’ road projects; this is the largest investment in roads and bridges in state history without raising taxes. Additionally, through the creation of a new local bridge account, 97 bridges will either be repaired or replaced statewide.

Education: The K12 education budget invests an additional $1.3 billion in our students, as well as make some significant reforms:

  • Ending the default "Last In, First Out" layoff policy to ensure schools can keep the best teachers in the classroom.
  • Expanding pre-K scholarships.
  • Overhauling the broken teacher licensure system in order to help schools address teacher shortages.

Childcare Reforms:

As the Chair of the Subcommittee on Childcare Access and Affordability, the Committee and I were able to advocate for some meaningful reforms to the childcare industry that benefit both families and providers:

  • Requiring exit interviews be conducted at the end of licensing visits to prevent surprise correction orders and to create a healthier, more collaborative relationship between licensors and providers.
  • Creating a new fix-it ticket for minor violations that do not imminently endanger the health, safety, or rights of the children in the program. It would give providers an option to fix simple violations without costly fines, while improving sometimes stressful licensing visits.
  • Allowing providers to take down correction orders overturned by appeal so they do not have to display these scarlet letters that can negatively affect their businesses.
  • Requiring direct, timely communication from DHS to providers regarding any changes that impact their businesses. Now there will be less confusion about changes to statute, rule, federal law, regulation, and policy – information that is sometimes not conveyed directly to providers and results in correction orders.

While the work on this issue is far from done, I am happy with the progress made this session.

Personal Accomplishments:

One of the best ways to grow a sector of the economy is to diversify its market. This session, I was able to secure continued funding for the industrial hemp pilot program. This will allow for continued research on the viability of an industrial hemp industry in Minnesota. Other states that have established similar pilot programs, such as Colorado and Kentucky, have seen their industrial hemp market vastly grow. Industrial hemp can help expand our local agriculture industry, as well as serve many purposes for Minnesotans, from a food source to building materials.

I was approached by a member of our community who needed help navigating Minnesota’s complicated permitting process. Believe it or not, in order to put eyelash extensions on a person at a salon, you need to be licensed. I was able to put forward legislation which has now been signed into law to help streamline that process by removing some of the burdensome red tape.

Buffer Reforms:

The following changes were made to the buffer law in order to make it more workable for farmers and landowners:

  • Deadline Waiver: A temporary waiver for up to 8 months, available through local Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) will be available for those not able to comply with the November 1, 2017 deadline for buffer installation on public waters.
  • Alternative Practices: SWCDs will now be able to approve alternative practices based on local conditions.
  • Cost Share: $5 million from the Clean Water Fund will be available through SWCDs for landowners interested in technical or financial assistance to establish buffers or alternative practices.
  • Seed Mixes: To prevent the spread of palmer amaranth or other noxious weeds, seed mixes must follow Minnesota's current seed verification process.
  • Definition of Public Waters: The definition of "public waters" was narrowed for purposes of the buffer law to be ONLY waters designated in the last Public Waters Inventory (PWI) update. Existing law pointed to a much broader definition of “public waters” and this change clarifies the intent of the 2015 agreement.

Capitol Grand Opening:

After an extensive 4 year restoration, the Capitol is ready to be officially reopened to the public. There will be celebrations held on August 11, 12, & 13; events include: fireworks, concerts, tours and more. Click here for more information!

Stay In Touch:

If you ever have any questions, comments, or concerns regarding any issue related to state government, please feel free to contact me at either 651-296-3201 or I would love to hear from you.

I truly represent the best!

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