I am looking forward to giving you an update on a handful of bills that I presented before committees this past week. These bills and the issues that they address were brought to me by constituents who contacted my office to share their ideas for how we can make Minnesota a better place to live, raise a family, and own a business.
Protecting Agricultural Property
On Tuesday, House File 1187 was heard before the House Agriculture Policy Committee. HF 1187 extends equity stripping law protections to agricultural properties.
Equity-stripping occurs when a homeowner in foreclosure transfers the residence to an investor, the investor then charges the homeowner excessive fees and interest, removing the equity from the residence, and eventually forecloses on any interest the homeowner may have the in residence.
This bill provides that farm owners, whose primary residence is their farm, receive the same protections provided to residential homeowners relating to equity stripping.
Expanding Economic Opportunity for Local Businesses
Another bill I am chief authoring, House File 962, received a hearing before the Commerce and Regulatory Policy Committee on Wednesday. This bill allows Minnesota micro distilleries to sell single, 375 mL bottles of products manufactured on their premises, as a novelty.
Our district is home to Panther Distillery which is the state’s first licensed micro-distillery and I am excited about the possibilities for business growth that will accompany this bill’s passage.
HF 962 was laid over for possible inclusion in an omnibus bill.
Reforming Minnesota’s Tax Stamp Laws
Current Minnesota law requires licensed cigarette wholesalers to attach a state cigarette tax stamp to cigarette products by means of a tax stamp machine. This process requires employing at least two workers to operate the stamp machine and for the wholesaler to reimburse the state for the cost of printing the tax stamps.
An example of a wholesaler in our area would be Henry’s Foods.
This law places undue burden on Minnesota wholesalers by requiring local businesses to go through a complex and expensive process given the machine and labor requirements.
Currently, 48 states pay a cigarette stamping allowance to wholesalers. Minnesota’s stamping allowance was repealed in 2003 as a budget balancing measure. Due to the 2003 repeal, Minnesota wholesalers’ incur approximately $2.3 million in costs and expenses to stamp cigarettes for the state.
My bill would allow wholesalers to be compensated for the expenses they incur to stamp cigarettes for the state. The cigarette stamping allowance was repealed in a time of budget deficits, and we should now reinstate it during this time of budget surplus.
Feedback on MNSure Wanted
I want to hear about your MNSure experience. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “MNSure Story” to make sure that your story is heard.
It is my hope that we can work towards phasing out MNSure and get back to what works best for Minnesota families.
Constituent Coffee this Saturday
I will be holding a constituent coffee this Saturday at the Caribou Coffee (Nokomis) in Alexandria from 9:45-11:00. I encourage you to stop by and chat about things that are happening in St. Paul.
As always, please feel free to contact me via e-mail at Rep.Mary.Franson@House.MN or contact my office at 651-296-3201. You can also send mail to my office address: 517 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155.