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

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Legislative Update (5-1-15)

Friday, May 1, 2015
Dear Neighbors,
The House debated and approved a number of omnibus finance and policy bills this week. Here is a recap of a handful of these bills and how they will positively impact our community.
Investing in our Rural Nursing Homes
On Wednesday, the House passed the Health and Human Services (HHS) Omnibus bill. This legislation protects the most vulnerable, while expanding access to quality, affordable care for all Minnesotans.
This bill follows through on one of our top priorities this session – finding a solution to the staffing and funding issues facing nursing homes in Greater Minnesota. More specifically, this legislation provides reform to facilities that care for our elderly by implementing a statewide rate of reimbursement – which will strongly assist nursing homes in Greater Minnesota, improve the wages of care providers and provide a permanent solution to statewide nursing home needs.
The following numbers represent the annual change in Medicaid and estimated private revenue for the 2016 rate year if the House legislation becomes law:
  • Alexandria: Knute Nelson - $1,390,875
  • Alexandria: Bethany Home - $1,237,955
  • Osakis: Community Memorial Home - $489,588
  • Henning: Golden Living Center - $254,787
  • New York Mills: Elders Homes - $664,972
  • Parkers Prairie: St. Williams Living Center - $446,798
I am hopeful that the Governor and our DFL colleagues will join us in supporting long term funding that will help address the issues facing our long-term care centers.
Additionally, the bill provides a one-time five percent cost of living adjustment for home and community based care workers.
Tax Relief for Minnesotans
After Democrats imposed a $2.1 billion tax increase on hardworking Minnesotans two years ago, my colleagues and I in the new Republican Majority were able to pass much-needed tax relief for middle-class families on Wednesday.
Here is a look at some of the highlights and who will benefit from our tax bill:
  • Middle-Class Families: $538.6 million to give Minnesotans relief through a new state version of the personal or dependent tax exemption.
  • College Students: $130.6 million for college, technical, and trade schools students in tax relief through a new tax credit for principal and interest payments on student plans.
  • Aging Adults: $236.7 million in relief to aging adults living on fixed income by phasing out the tax on social security.
  • Veterans: $51.6 million in relief to veterans by no longer subjecting military pay and pensions to income tax.
  • Farmers: 240,000 farmers could receive property tax relief to reduce their disproportionate share of school district debt service.
  • Jobs & Innovation: $453.3 million to lower prices for consumers and increase wages for employees by modifying and phasing out the statewide general property tax.
Our budget invests in priorities like education, roads and bridges, and nursing home care, and still provides significant tax relief to hardworking Minnesotans.
Student Focused Education Bill
As lawmakers and individuals who are invested in the academic success of Minnesota’s children, we are committed to seeing that every student has the chance to reach their full potential. Last Saturday, the House made good on this commitment by passing the Education Omnibus bill. Along with funding that helps to level the playing field for Greater Minnesota school districts, the bill also includes important policy reforms that will ensure that Minnesota’s schools remain among the best in the nation.
Here are a few policy highlights from the bill:
  • Increase quality of teaching by focusing on merit in teacher retention policies, and limiting placement of students with ineffective teaching. This empowers school districts and local unions to negotiate solutions for teacher retentios. Seniority will still factor into staff retention decisions, but will no longer be the only factor.
  • Strengthen standards on new teacher licensure to ensure a firm foundation of academic skills.
  • Increase access to quality teachers through out-of-state teacher license recognition, encouraging regional licensure reciprocity, streamlining alternative pathways to teaching, and reinstating other licensure options.
  • Empower school districts to tap community experts to fill unmet needs to maintain or expand academic opportunities for students.
Minnesota has great teachers and in order to maintain our state’s high level of academic achievement, we need to do our best to ensure that we continue to have the most effective teachers in our schools.
Invitation to Constituent Coffee
I will be holding a constituent coffee this Saturday at the Caribou Coffee (Nokomis) in Alexandria from 9:00-10:00. 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.