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

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Legislative report

Monday, May 21, 2018

Dear Neighbor,

The Minnesota House adjourned the 2018 session on Sunday after having passed a compromise tax conformity and education funding bill, a bonding bill, and a pension bill.

Town hall meetings

Before we get to those details, I’d like to pass along information regarding a series of town hall meetings I will be co-hosting with Sen. Gary Dahms on Thursday. Here is the schedule and the timing is perfect for rehashing the 2018 session:

  • Marshall: 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. sponsored by the Marshall Area Chamber of Commerce at the MERIT Center, 1001 W. Erie Road. Coffee will be provided.
  • Canby: 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. at the City Hall Council Chambers, City Administrative Office Building, 110 Oscar Ave. N.
  • Madison: 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the City Hall Auditorium, 404 Sixth Ave.
  • Dawson: 1 to 2 p.m. at the City Building, 675 Chestnut St.
  • Granite Falls: 3 to 4 p.m. at the City Hall Council Chambers, 641 Prentice St.

Session is complete

As for our work at the Capitol itself, it is clear that House Republicans went to bat for the people of Greater Minnesota this biennium. From the transportation funding for small cities, to bonding projects in rural areas and legislation to support property owners, there are a lot of things to be pleased about – and I haven’t even gotten to the tax relief we provided. The only thing which remains unanswered is whether the governor will sign the last of our good bills into law, or if he will play partisan games and prevent Minnesotans from enjoying the benefits we provided them.

The tax conformity and education plan were part of a compromise effort between legislative Republicans and Dayton. The federal conformity plan protects taxpayers, simplifies Minnesota's tax code, and provides the first income tax rate cut in nearly 20 years. It also makes available more than $225 million to help students – nearly $100 million more than what the governor requested, provides new money and additional flexibility for school districts to address budget shortfalls.

Earlier Sunday, the House sent a supplemental budget bill to the governor’s desk. It contains shared priorities like ensuring safe schools, repairing roads and bridges, tackling the opioid epidemic, protecting aging and vulnerable adults, and preventing a cut to caregivers of disabled Minnesotans.

A top priority for House Republicans this year was improved school safety and student mental health. The bonding bill passed Sunday night brings the total school safety investment to more than $50 million – double the amount proposed by Dayton.

House Republicans also advanced an infrastructure-heavy, geographically balanced capital investment package featuring $825 million in general obligation bonding to fund construction projects throughout the state. Included is a $3.1 million appropriation for the Minnesota Emergency Response & Industrial Training Center in Marshall. There also is $32 million for the construction of new veterans homes, including one for Montevideo which I advocated. Funding for a Lake Redwood dredging project I supported also was included.

The bills we sent to the governor build on the successful session that included the largest tax cut in nearly two decades, the largest investment in roads and bridges in state history without a gas tax increase, major funding boosts for education, and reforms to lower health care costs and boost health care choices for Minnesota families.

Ditch mowing news

Legislation I authored to extend for another year a moratorium on new rules governing mowing or haying trunk highway rights-of-way has been signed into law by the governor. The moratorium, which expired this month, now will be in place until April 30, 2019 after enactment of H.F. 4008/S.F. 3569.

This is great news because it will provide more time to address public concerns on what is a rather complicated issue. The Minnesota Department of Transportation issued a report in March following a series of meetings with citizens and now extending the moratorium will allow for due process to take place in determining the best path forward. My main objective is to ensure that the rights of property owners are respected.

The mowing and haying issue came to a head in 2016, when the Minnesota Department of Transportation announced plans to change its statewide permitting standards for mowing and baling in ditches along Minnesota’s state roadways. Widespread concerns brought forward by property owners led us to successfully author a bill in 2017 placing the original one-year moratorium on new mowing rules.

I look forward to continuing to work on this issue and I welcome citizens to participate in the process. Good government works for the people and that is what I am focusing on as we seek a resolution on this issue.