With students from Monticello who were at the Capitol recently
Speaking about my bill to bring 5G to Minnesota on the House Floor
The 2017 legislative session concluded in late May with some big wins for Minnesota families and taxpayers. Included in the final budget agreed upon by the House, Senate and Governor Dayton are historic tax relief and transportation bills, increased funding for our schools and meaningful reforms to help improve the lives of citizens in Wright County and across the state.
First, House Republicans strongly advocated for a large middle-class tax relief package this session that puts money back in the pockets of families, seniors, Main Street businesses, college graduates and farmers. Highlights of our $650 million tax bill include reducing the state income tax paid on Social Security, a first-in-the-nation tax credit for student loan debt, property tax relief for farmers, modifications to the child and dependent care credit, and exempting the first $100,000 in property value on the extra tax paid by our hometown businesses. Hardworking taxpayers helped fund our state’s surplus, and it’s only right that money is returned to you.
Additionally, Minnesotans asked for greater investments in our roads and bridges, and we delivered without raising the gas tax or license tab fees. From $16 million for small city road projects to funding nearly 100 bridges on MnDOT’s priority list, we focused on critical transportation infrastructure needs across the state. What’s more, we made sure that state taxpayers will not be responsible for future operating costs of Southwest Light Rail without legislative approval.
For our students and schools, we increased funding for education over the current biennium by $1.35 billion, putting more money into every classroom. We also implemented several reforms including an overhaul of our broken teacher licensure system to tackle our state’s critical teacher shortage, as well as a repeal of “last in, first out” which will allow for more than just seniority to be factored in when schools are forced to reduce staff. Working to hire and retain world-class teachers is important to provide every Minnesota child with a world-class education.
Other highlights from the bills passed at the end of session include ensuring that executive rulemaking will not expand Minnesota driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants, tuition freezes at two and four year MnSCU schools, and funding veteran priorities.
Furthermore, I also championed several provisions and bills this year that were signed into law by Governor Dayton. Those include:
- Repealing the Made in Minnesota Solar Program, allowing our state to reinvest funding from ineffective programs that benefit a few to funding more effective clean energy programs that benefit the state as a whole, saving ratepayers money
- Funding to support internship opportunities and workforce development for college students with Minnesota businesses in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields
- Putting Minnesota at the forefront of bringing 5G small cell technology to our state
- Adding 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
- Making changes to how Harassment Restraining Orders (HROs) are handled, allowing any peace officer to find and serve a person with an order in order to better protect women, children and victims of violence
- Working to restructure technical parole violations, recommending community chemical dependency treatment options for non-violent drug offenders which will help people get the help they need and reduce our prison population
- Funding grants with the YWCA to help economically-challenged Minnesotans gain valuable job skills and career counseling to help them secure credentials to work in child development and early childhood education
- Making technical changes and recommendations by the Unemployment Insurance Advisory Council
With all of the good work that was done for Minnesotans this session, it is unfortunate that with the signing of this compromise budget, the governor also made an unprecedented and unconstitutional attempt to silence another branch of government for four years by defunding the Legislature. After such a productive session, his behavior on this front was extremely disappointing and the Legislature will be looking to defend your voice and your representation at the Capitol by seeking outside counsel.
In all, this was a positive session for the citizens and taxpayers of Minnesota. I am pleased we got our work done and were able to fund our shared priorities including tax relief, education, and roads and bridges.
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.