Here is an update from the Capitol.
Last Tuesday, the Office of Minnesota Management and Budget released the February economic forecast which legislators will use to craft a two year budget for Fiscal Years 2018-19. The good news is that since November, our surplus has increased by $250 million to $1.65 billion. The bad news is that means we collected too much from the hardworking taxpayers of our state.
When crafting a budget later this session, my priorities will be to pass a responsible budget that limits state government growth, invests in our shared priorities, and provides significant tax relief for families, seniors, small businesses, farmers and the hardworking taxpayers of Wright County.
Expect budget targets to be released in the coming weeks that will set the stage for committee omnibus bills. I will keep you updated as more news on those bills becomes available.
Uniform Labor Standards Act
Last week, the House passed bipartisan legislation that would ensure consistent employment regulations across the state. Under House File 600, local governments would be prohibited from imposing employment standards on private employers in their jurisdiction including wages, work hours, and paid or unpaid leave.
This bill is important for businesses who are facing a patchwork of local ordinances across the state that hinder business growth, expansion and commerce. This also affects Wright County businesses who do business in Minneapolis, for example, which has attempted to raise its minimum wage above the state level.
Since statehood, state government has set labor standards, and this bill clarifies that it should remain the responsibility of the state because of the far reaching impact of these kinds of laws.
This bill is about streamlining workplace regulations, protecting commerce in Minnesota, and trusting businesses and their employees to come to mutually beneficial agreements on wages and benefits.
House File 1252
Last week in the Public Safety Committee, my legislation to stand up for the constitutional rights of Minnesota children was heard.
House File 1252 provides an additional $350,000 in funding for a competitive grant program for private organizations that provide pro bono volunteer lawyers to children who need protective services or are in foster care. This is a good example of a public-private partnership that leverages $3 million worth of pro bono representation with just the $150,000 annual base funding. The appropriation would be added to the base for the Office of Justice Programs.
This bill is about protecting kids and ensuring they have access to representation. I am pleased it is advancing this session.
House File 1654
Also last week in the Civil Law Committee, my bill House File 1654 was passed. This bill adds felony strangulation of a family or household member to the list of what must be considered in custody cases, helping protect children from being placed in the care of a violent parent or guardian.
This legislation has bipartisan support and is another bill that stands up for Minnesota kids. The bill’s next stop is the Public Safety Committee.
If you need assistance on 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.