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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Brian Johnson (R)

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Legislative Update from Rep. Brian Johnson

Thursday, January 17, 2013


I am excited to begin my first term in the Minnesota House of Representatives. Thank you for subscribing to my legislative updates. I hope to keep you aware of the issues I’m working on in St. Paul periodically throughout the year.

We began the 2013 Legislative Session last week on Tuesday, January 8th. I am honored to serve the cities of Cambridge, Isanti, Braham, Harris, North Branch and Rush City as well as Dalbo, Wyanett, Maple Ridge, Springvale, Stanchfield, Cambridge, Isanti, Nessel, Fish Lake, North Branch, Oxford and Rushseba Townships.

This year I will be serving on the Civil Law, Judiciary, Public Safety and Elections Committees. I was also appointed by the Minority Leader to serve on the Financial Crimes Advisory Board and the Legislative Coordinating Commission Subcommittee on Claims.

DFL Put Agriculture on Back Burner

This week, my colleagues in the House Rules Committee proposed an amendment to the temporary rules of the House that made sure agriculture wasn’t forgotten under the metro DFL leadership now in control. After winning the majority, DFL Speaker Paul Thissen moved the important functions of the House Agriculture Finance Committee into the Environment and Natural Resources Committee and eliminated that committee from existence. This new committee, made up of environmental and agriculture duties, is chaired by Rep. Jean Wagenius of Minneapolis. Wagenius is a longtime partisan environmentalist with a history of voting against the interests of Greater Minnesota and agriculture in general.

House Republicans made the case to return agriculture funding and program oversight back to its own committee with leaders that thoroughly support Minnesota farmers, but DFL’ers voted “No.” Agriculture employs one in five Minnesotans, either directly or indirectly, and we can’t afford to put this critical piece of our state economy on the back burner. I will continue to support the GOP amendment to give Agriculture Finance its own committee again and a proper chair that respects Minnesota’s vital farm community.

Gun Control Legislation

Many of you have asked about my stance on current gun control policies given a recent focus by the federal government on this issue. As a state legislator, I feel our role in changing gun laws is very minimal. We currently have a set of state and local laws in Minnesota that ought to be enforced properly to keep people safe. However, I am open to considering policies that address the issue of mental illness and ensure, through our application process, that those suffering from certain mental illnesses do not have access to firearms.

Tax Increases Hurt the Middle Class

As some of you know, Governor Dayton and DFL legislators have proposed tax increases on both wealthy and middle-class Minnesotans to solve this year’s projected budget shortfall. So far, legislation has been introduced that would raise income taxes and extend the sales tax to include clothing, one of few exemptions that currently bring consumers into our state to spend money. Republican legislators last session held the line on tax increases and balanced the budget. The State saw a positive financial benefit from not imposing job-killing taxes during this time and the budget has improved. What was first projected to be a $4 billion budget shortfall for the upcoming biennium has been reduced to $1.1 billion.

The Secretary of State, Mark Ritchie, reported this week that 60,827 new businesses were filed in 2012 due to our improved business climate. This is an 18% increase over the previous year and the second highest number of new filings in our state’s history. Tax increases which discourage innovation and investment could impede the momentum we’re experiencing from Minnesota’s small businesses.

To stay informed on my work at the Capitol, please encourage others to sign up for my email updates.

Thank you for the honor of being your state representative.