Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Here is an update with the latest news from Saint Paul.
February Economic Forecast
On Tuesday, Minnesota Management and Budget unveiled an updated economic forecast for Fiscal Years 2018-19. Since November, our surplus has increased by approximately $250 million to $1.65 billion. It is the eight straight budget forecast with a positive balance.
What this growing surplus shows is that our state has taken too much from Minnesota taxpayers. I want to ensure taxpayers, like the state, are seeing a surplus in their own budget, and I will be advocating for a large, comprehensive tax bill this session that returns money to families, small businesses, college graduates, farmers, seniors and the hardworking taxpayers of our state.
Additionally with the February forecast, legislators will release committee budget targets in the coming weeks and craft a biennial budget proposal which will fund state government for the next two years. House Republicans will be putting together a plan that provides significant, middle-class tax relief, limits state government growth and responsibly funds our shared priorities like education and transportation. I will share more information on that later this session.
Highway Memorial Bill
Last week, I introduced legislation that will designate a segment of Trunk Highway 65 in Isanti County from 305th Avenue NE to the northerly limit of Cambridge Township as the Chip A. Imker Memorial Highway.
Imker, who was a Cambridge firefighter, tragically passed away in a training accident in 2011 at the age of 35. He was also a member of the Army National Guard and a volunteer wrestling coach for Cambridge-Isanti High School.
This memorial highway is a way to honor the memory of a man who was a dedicated public servant, father and friend to many in our community. I will be advocating for the memorial highway this session and hope we can get it passed into law.
Also last week, the House passed House File 3, a bill that will allow our state to comply with federal Real ID requirements. Congress passed the federal Real ID law in 2005 to make it more difficult for terrorists to obtain fake identification, and states must pass legislation to comply.
Without this bill becoming law, beginning in 2018 a Minnesota-issued driver’s license will no longer be a valid form of identification to fly commercially. It is also needed so you can use a license to enter federal facilities or visit a loved one on a military base. Once this bill is signed into law, the Department of Homeland Security will grant an extension until 2020 for full compliance.
It’s important to note that for people concerned about federal Real ID requirements, this bill provides for a two-track system, meaning people can choose whether or not to get a Real ID-compliant driver’s license. What’s more, the bill passed last week will also protect the data of gun owners and ensure that Department of Public Safety rulemaking cannot expand driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants.
I would like to get Real ID legislation to the governor as soon as possible to ensure Minnesotans can continue to fly and visit federal facilities without unnecessary hassles and headaches. I will keep you updated on the progress of this bill.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office if I can be of assistance to you or your family on a matter of state government. I am here to serve you!
Have a wonderful weekend.