On the eve of the Minnesota Fishing Opener, I hope this letter finds you at the cabin or your favorite fishing location and with family and friends. I always look forward to cribbage and laughs with my daughters. Good luck fishing!
We can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. There are just 10 days left of the 2014 legislative session, and I'm eagerly looking forward to being back in Little Falls after a grueling few months down in St. Paul, away from friends, family, and our amazing community.
Yesterday the House passed the final version Women's Economic Security Act (WESA), a large series of bills aimed at helping women succeed in today's economy. I was selected as the only Republican member of the conference committee, and appreciated the opportunity to serve as a conferee and be able to voice concerns that Republicans and other groups have had with WESA as we worked out differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill.
Is it a perfect bill? No. My colleagues and I had serious questions about the impacts some of the provisions would have on employers, creating more opportunities for trial lawyers than it would for women.
But there were good provisions like expanded pregnancy leave, allowing grandparents to take time off work to care for sick grandchildren, and grant funding for women-owned businesses. I will continue to work for a strong rural economy and fair business practices.
The Senate passed the bill yesterday evening, and it now heads to the Governor's desk for his signature.
With 10 days to go there are three remaining major pieces of legislation still left to tackle before we adjourn. The bonding bill is expected to be in the neighborhood of $850 million, and will fund various construction projects across Minnesota. The bonding bill requires bipartisan support, and Republicans have insisted on a reasonable bonding bill that doesn't borrow too much and remains geographically balanced. Many of you know that I believe we should prioritize the bill based on infrastructure and asset preservation. I am advocating for investment to improve our transportation needs first.
In addition to the bonding bill, we will be tackling a second tax cut bill that will mean property tax relief for farmers and other families in Greater Minnesota. Agriculture property taxes have skyrocketed in recent years, far beyond the rate of inflation, and I'm glad to see the legislature using some of the remaining budget surplus to address property tax relief. The version that passed the House received broad bipartisan support, and I expect the final version will as well.
Finally, the House and Senate are still working out differences between two versions of a supplemental budget bill which provides funding for a variety of programs and other targeted spending. The House version included good provisions like funding for the 5% Campaign, but unfortunately included hundreds of millions of dollars in other spending that cuts into future surpluses and puts Minnesota at risk for future budget deficits. It also includes more than $400 million for what is effectively an ObamaCare bailout. MinnesotaCare and Medical Assistance programs are running large deficits in future years due to lower-than-anticipated funding from the federal government under the Affordable Care Act, or ObamaCare, and this bill shifts money around to fill those deficits.
If you have any questions about these, or other legislation in the final days of session, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 651.296.4247. My door is always open, and I welcome your feedback and input.
Lastly, send pictures of your trophy fish!
Have a great weekend,
State Representative - District 9B
329 State Office Building
St. Paul, MN 55155