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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Chris Swedzinski (R)

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News from the Capitol

Friday, April 27, 2018

Dear Neighbor,

In last week’s email, I noted how the House was working on a supplemental budget and that a main focus is on relief, along with holding Minnesotans harmless to every extent possible as we adjust for substantial tax changes recently made at the federal level.

More light has been shed on that subject since the House has now come forward with a tax bill that would provide the first income tax rate cut in nearly 20 years, along with provisions to simplify our tax code and protecting as many Minnesotans as we can in adapting to the federal changes. Through the House tax bill, more than 2.1 million Minnesota filers will benefit from a tax cut in tax year 2018. Here are some main features:

  • Helping middle-class Minnesotans keep more of what they earn by cutting the second tier income tax rate from 7.05 percent to 6.75 percent by tax year 2020. Note: This would mark the first income tax rate reduction in Minnesota since 2000.
  • 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.
  • Encouraging affordable homeownership by allowing a state-itemized deduction of up to $30,000 in property taxes.
  • Supporting hometown businesses and farmers by reinvesting extra revenue from corporate tax changes into Section 179 conformity and overall rate reductions.

Our plan to reduce taxes on Minnesotans is different from the governor’s overall budget approach that would raise taxes on households of all income levels and hit those making $32,000 or less the hardest. But there also are areas where we agree, such helping farmers and Minnesota businesses with tax relief for qualifying equipment purchases. This subject will continue to develop as negotiations soon will begin in earnest.


Student safety a top priority this session. House Republicans are working on legislation to provide school districts with the resources and local flexibility they need to address school safety and student mental health. Here are some highlights of a bill which passed the House floor yesterday:

  • School resource officers, student support personnel, and other school security programs funded through increased Safe Schools revenue, including a floor level of funding for small schools.
  • School building security upgrades, and expanded use of Long-Term Facility Maintenance revenue for security projects, including emergency communications systems.
  • School-linked mental health programming to ensure better outcomes for all kids.
  • Physical security audit grants to provide state assistance to review facility security and crisis management policies.
  • Suicide prevention training for teachers to help educators learn how to engage and assist students experiencing mental distress.
  • School-based threat assessment teams established to assess, intervene, and report threats facing students, teachers, and staff.


The House passed a bipartisan bill on Monday that would put new energy and focus on protecting Minnesota’s natural wild rice resources. The bill directs both the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Department of Natural Resources to refocus their efforts on protecting, enhancing and, where appropriate, restoring natural wild rice beds in Minnesota.

This will make improvements on the current standard, which was adopted in 1973 based upon field observations of wild rice beds that were conducted in the 1930s and 1940s. This obsolete standard has not been enforced and, if applied today, would create millions of dollars in unwarranted costs to rural municipal waste water treatment plants across Minnesota.

The MPCA has unsuccessfully worked for more than seven years to establish a reasonable, enforceable rule, only to be repeatedly rejected by an administrative law judge. Let’s take advantage of scientific developments that have occurred during the better part of the last century so that we can make wise decisions.

On Thursday, the MPCA publicly announced it will pull back its rule from the rulemaking process. Let’s hope this means the MPCA and the DNR are ready to collaborate on a solution that fits what the House’s goal has been all along: putting together a new plan that is reasonable, enforceable and that will actually serve its intended purpose by protecting and enhancing our state’s resources.


A National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. This is a way we can safely dispose of leftover medication that may be in our homes and help make a dent in the opioid epidemic. Click here for more on this subject or click here for information regarding drop-off site locations. This is a good program to keep drugs out of the wrong hands and I hope you’ll share this info with family and friends.