Greetings from the Capitol! It appears spring is here to stay, and I hope everyone has been able to enjoy some time outside in the warmer weather we’ve been having.
On Saturday at 12:00pm, the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus is holding its Gun Owners Rally at the Capitol. Please send me a note to let me know if you’ll be attending this important event to advocate for the protection of our second amendment rights.
Before the weekend gets underway, here is an update with the latest news from St. Paul.
On Tuesday, the House unanimously (123-0) passed a bill I am authoring which would protect up to $25,000 in health savings accounts from creditors and bankruptcy trustees. While other properties are currently protected by Minnesota state exceptions, there is nothing in statute about healthcare savings. With more and more people using health savings accounts in recent years, the money people save for healthcare expenses should be protected. Likewise, healthcare providers should be able to receive what is already set aside to pay for their services. I was pleased to see this bill gain the support of so many of my colleagues, and I will be sure to fill you in as it moves towards the Governor’s final approval.
Last weekend, House Republicans unveiled the details of our proposed tax bill. Conforming to the recently changed federal tax code is one of the most pressing issues the legislature is faced with this year. Our proposed legislation addresses this by simplifying Minnesota’s tax code to enable taxpayers to smoothly file their taxes and enjoy the full benefit of the Republican-led federal tax cuts.
Additionally, this bill would deliver significant tax relief for Minnesota’s middle-class families, allowing them to keep more of their hard-earned money. This historic tax reduction would be Minnesota’s first income tax rate cut in nearly 20 years, and would result in over 2.1 million Minnesotan filers seeing a tax reduction.
Some of the changes in the bill include cutting the second tier income tax rate from 7.05% to 6.75% by tax year 2020; lowering taxes for people at all income levels by increasing the standard deduction from $13,000 to $14,000; protecting families by preserving a state personal and dependent exemption of $4,150; and encouraging affordable homeownership by allowing a state-itemized deduction of up to $30,000 in property taxes.
As I mentioned last week, this stands in stark contrast to the Governor’s proposal, which would increase taxes on all classes of Minnesotans by more than $1 billion.
Our tax bill has cleared its committee hurdles and will now come before the House as a whole for debate and a vote on Monday.
Last night, the House passed an omnibus education bill heavy on school safety provisions. This bill would provide schools with the resources and flexibility they need to make appropriate local decisions. Our multifaceted approach includes expanding the use of long-term facilities maintenance revenue for facility security upgrades, strengthening the state’s commitment to school-linked mental health grants, supporting suicide prevention training for teachers, and increasing funding for Safe Schools Revenue.
This legislation would also enact a number of innovative reforms, and bring more transparency to education. It would strengthen laws around teacher misconduct, as well as help create a Special Education Working Group to examine the factors behind rising costs in this area. The bill would also establish a School Report Card, which would consist of summative and easily accessible school ratings to provide families with a place to research, compare and help determine which school will work best for their children.
Senator Smith Child Care Meeting
On Tuesday morning, Senator Tina Smith’s staff held a roundtable meeting in Alexandria to discuss issues facing child care providers. It’s unfortunate that this was held during a time when one of the most important stakeholders – child care providers themselves – could not attend and offer their invaluable input. To remind everyone, Senator Smith was previously a part of Governor Dayton’s administration – an administration which has been disastrous for child care accessibility and affordability in our state. The administration has severely damaged the market, put roughly 3,000 providers out of business, and enabled a heavy-handed Department of Humans Services which has repeatedly vilified providers. It’s important to understand that simply throwing more and more money at the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) is not the solution, and that real change requires an administration that is willing to significantly overhaul DHS.
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. I can be reached via phone at 651-296-3201 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I value your input and would love to hear from you.
I represent the best!