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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Joe McDonald (R)

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Independence Day message and info on new laws

Thursday, June 29, 2017

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Above is a photo of the Delano Independence Day fireworks celebration last July 4.


Before we get to legislative business, I wish you and yours a happy and safe Fourth of July as we here in District 29A look to once again set the bar in terms of showing the rest of the state just how to really celebrate our nation’s independence. After all, Delano’s celebration is said to be Minnesota’s largest and oldest Independence Day celebration. Annandale has a huge celebration as well, including its 128th annual Independence Day parade on Tuesday. I hope you are able to get out and share the fun with friends and neighbors as we take time to cherish this great nation in which we live!

As for legislative news, numerous new state laws are set to take effect July 1, including our state’s new two-year budget as we enter the new fiscal biennium. Transportation, K-12 education and tax relief are just a few highlights I would like to touch on.

The new transportation portion of the budget is a $6.5 billion transportation package for 2018-19. New law directs taxes already collected on rental cars, leased cars and the purchase of auto parts to roads and bridges instead of the general fund. Minnesota will join 33 other states that now use their general fund for roads and bridges.

There is a $300 million increase in General Fund spending for transportation, $940 million in bonding and a $75 annual surcharge on electric motor vehicles set to take effect. Almost $1.9 billion of the transportation funding is appropriated for the construction, reconstruction and improvement of state highways. Additional funds are used for design and engineering work along with construction project management.

The influx of more than $300 million for roads provided over the next two years includes:

  • $16 million for cities under 5,000 citizens
  • $102 million for trunk highways
  • $48 million for counties
  • $15 million for cities

Over the next four years, Wright County will receive $3.2 million in increased funding for roads and bridges. For our cities, Delano will receive $84,000 in new local street aid. Also, here is a sampling of what the new small-cities funding will mean in increases for District 29A towns over the next two years alone: Annandale, $52,978; Cokato, $42,556; Howard Lake, $36,362; Rockford, $59,598; and Waverly, $31,674.

The K-12 education budget which is set to hit the books includes more than $1.3 billion in increased funding (2 percent more each of the next two years as requested by our schools). Delano will receive approximately $1 million in new funding the next two years, while Annandale ($712,571) and Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted ($536,482) are other examples of funding increases for area schools.

While tax changes do not specifically take effect July 1, the 2017 tax bill delivers $650 million in tax relief to Minnesota families over the next two years, and $790 million in 2020-2021. The following highlights all are in effect for either tax year 2017 (for filings made in 2018), or in calendar year 2018 (the property tax provisions):

  • Social security tax relief for nearly 284,000 senior citizen tax returns (single and married filing jointly)
  • Property tax relief for small business owners by eliminating the state property tax on the first $100,000 of value on commercial real estate
  • An increased child care tax credit so a family of four making $50,000 will get $1,200 more
  • A student loan credit that will give 65,000 students an average of a $414 reduction
  • A 40% reduction in school levy property taxes on farmland

I would be remiss if I didn't mention that, as of this coming Sunday, liquor stores in Minnesota have the option of opening their doors for business on Sundays due to a change in law enacted this year. Of course, this is contingent on local governments changing their ordinances to adopt the new state law. You can click here for more information regarding Sunday sales and all the other new laws that take effect July 1.

Have a good Independence Day holiday, be safe and we’ll be back with more news soon.

All my best and God bless,

Rep. Joe McDonald

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