Long floor sessions filled this week at the Capitol as the House debated and passed multiple omnibus bills covering a wide range of issues. Before the weekend gets underway, here is an update with an overview of these bills as well as some news on a bill I have been working on.
On Wednesday afternoon, the House unanimously passed a bill I am authoring to make improvements to foster child care in our state. The legislation includes one hour of fetal alcohol syndrome training as a part of the existing annual training for licensed foster care providers. Because of the serious dangers fetal alcohol syndrome poses to children, it is important that we continue to raise awareness on the issue as well as educate foster families to understand its impact. Doing so is critical to ensure the best possible care for the kids who suffer from it. I was pleased to see the overwhelming support it received from my colleagues, and I will keep you updated as it works its way towards the governor’s final approval.
House Passes Tax Bill
On Monday, the House passed bipartisan tax legislation to simplify Minnesota’s tax code to allow filers to fully benefit from federal tax reform and provide additional tax relief to middle-class Minnesotans. The bill delivers significant tax relief for middle-class families by reducing the second tier income tax rate. This tax reduction would be Minnesota’s first income tax rate cut in nearly 20 years, and would result in over 2.1 million Minnesota filers seeing a tax reduction. This legislation will allow Minnesotans to keep more of their hard-earned money, and I was proud to vote in favor of it on Monday.
Some specific changes in the bill include cutting the second tier income tax rate from 7.05% to 6.75% by tax year 2020; 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; and encouraging affordable homeownership by allowing a state-itemized deduction of up to $30,000 in property taxes.
Omnibus Budget Bills
In addition to the tax bill, the House passed a number of other omnibus budget bills this week. From meaningful transportation investments to tackling health care costs, these bills are focused on the priorities of Minnesotans.
Highlights of the bills passed this week include:
- Providing $385 million for transportation needs this year, using surplus funds leveraged with trunk highway bonds to repair and improve our roads and bridges
- Preventing a wage reduction for those that care for our disabled community by reinstating the 7 percent cut to the Disability Waiver Rate System
- Addressing vulnerable adult abuse and neglect, strengthening the tools the state can use against perpetrators of abuse, and holding state agencies accountable for their shortcomings on maltreatment investigations
- Cutting the MNsure tax on health plans to help lower health care costs for Minnesotans
- Combatting the opioid epidemic
- Cracking down on sex offenders by strengthening and closing loopholes in Minnesota law surrounding criminal sexual conduct
- Funding three new veterans homes in Greater Minnesota with excess Stadium Reserve Funds
- Implementing reforms to reduce potential fraud and waste in our public health care system
These bills are made up of a lot of provisions that will have a positive impact on Minnesota’s taxpayers and families. I will share additional news as we head into the final few weeks of session and work to find compromise with Governor Dayton and the Senate on these issues.
Please Contact Me
With only a few weeks left in the legislative session, if you have any questions or concerns about any of the bills that will come before me on the House floor, please do not hesitate to contact me. I can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 651-296-4247. I appreciate hearing from constituents and value your feedback and input.
Have a great weekend,