For anyone who has not yet taken my 2016 Legislative Survey, it's available to take online. I appreciate the opportunity to gather feedback from constituents about important issues being debated at the Capitol. Your opinions are valuable and guide me toward supporting legislation that best serves our community.
To take my survey, just go to this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ONeill2016
Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts! Also, don't forget to share my survey with your friends and family in District 29B!
Reining in State Government
Since first being elected to the legislature in 2013, I have seen repeated attempts to grow both the size and scope of state government, costing taxpayers more money and Minnesota citizens their freedoms. As your state representative, it is my job to protect the people of our community and state from this heavy handed government overreach.
Just as recently as last week, I was sitting in a committee listening the Minnesota Department of Human Rights state agency ask for $250,000 to hire two more full time employees (FTEs). With the average cost of an FTE for the state of Minnesota costing around $70,000, continuing to grow state government bureaucracy is not the answer. House Republicans pushed for a provision in the state government finance bill last year that would limit FTE growth, but it was removed in final negotiations with the DFL-led Senate and Governor Dayton. I would much prefer to see the private sector be a leading employer and economic driver—not the state, and with your help, I hope we can limit FTE growth in the future.
Additionally, as government grows, I have seen more and more power fall into the hands of unelected state agencies that have the power over the purse of Minnesota citizens. The Minnesota Department of Revenue (DOR) is a particular offender that I would like to see reined in.
When DOR conducts a sales tax audit on a small business, it can cost them thousands of dollars, not to mention time and resources. One DOR employee told me several years ago that their internal policy goal was to audit small businesses every three years for sales tax, which has been characterized by business owners I have talked to as essentially, extortion. Since then, other employees within the state agency have informed me that they are backing away from this aggressive audit policy, but more should be done. DOR should not be allowed to unnecessarily target small businesses with audits when they are following the law.
Co-chairing the bipartisan Small Business Caucus, I hear from employers, small business owners and state leaders all the time about the common sense reforms we need to implement to make it easier to do business in Minnesota. Cutting red tape and streamlining government aren't just talking points for our business community, but something they are desperately seeking to ease their financial burdens so they can grow, hire and contribute to a healthy state economy.
In an effort to help small businesses and rein in DOR, I am co-authoring legislation to limit the assessment authority of the Commissioner of Revenue and establish a private letter ruling to help businesses better understand what tax laws are being applied to their audit case. This is both a priority of mine and a priority for the Small Business Caucus.
The hardworking taxpayers of Minnesota deserve accountability in state government, and I will continue to work on reining in government growth and checking their overreach.
Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund
On Thursday, the House once again passed a bipartisan measure to give a boost to businesses across the state by right-sizing the state's overfunded Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund. The Senate has also passed this bill and it was sent to Governor Dayton who had stated he will sign it into law.
Reforming the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund will help businesses across the state keep more money to grow their company and hire new employees. Minnesota businesses pay into the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund which is currently carrying a nearly all-time high balance of $1.5 billion. The legislation credits $258 million to employers, as well as reduces their future obligations to pay into the trust fund when the balance exceeds the fully-funded threshold per federal standards. I was part of the negotiations to make these credits to businesses permanent when our trust fund grows too large, and I am pleased it garnered such strong support.
This legislation keeps more money in the private sector which is good for employers, employees and our state's economy. It's a win-win for all involved, and I am thankful it was made a priority this session.
If you need assistance an issue pertaining to state government, my office is available to you. You can e-mail at Rep.Marion.ONeill@House.MN or call my office at 651-296-5063. You can also write a letter to me. My office address at the Capitol is 549 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, St. Paul, MN 55155.