Last week, the House was gaveled back into session after a week off to observe the Easter and Passover holiday.
In the coming weeks, we are expecting the House DFL leadership to push forward their budget bills. As a member of the Judiciary Committee, it is my hope that the funding for public defenders will be shored up. It’s essential for our citizens who can’t afford attorneys to have good legal representation. We actually need more public defenders so we can adequately protect the civil liberties of those who can’t afford an attorney on their own.
I also expect the transportation omnibus bill to come before the House Transportation Finance Committee soon. I am eager to make sure we are adequately funding our roads and bridges, but I have serious concerns about some of the proposals to fund light rail transit. LRT has not proven to be a cost-effective way to transport people. I will oppose any proposals to expand LRT.
With many of the budget bills coming through the committees, you can count on many new tax increases to be put forward. Look out for the small business tax (House File 677), the beer tax (House File 885), the energy rate tax (House File 880), the snack tax (House File 1249), the tobacco tax (House File 91), the electricity surcharge tax (House File 1130) and the gas tax (House File 931) to name just a few. I plan to vote no on all of these tax increases.
I had the opportunity to do a couple interviews last week. On Thursday, I recorded an interview with MPR along with Representative Raymond Dehn (DFL-Minneapolis) about what’s going on the Capitol and my experience as a freshman Republican legislator.
On Friday, I sat down on the Almanac couch with Representative Joe Radinovich (DFL-Crosby), Senator Karin Housley (R-St. Mary’s Point), and Senator Matt Schmit (DFL-Red Wing), all first-term legislators, to talk about a number of issues before the legislature.
On Friday, I toured Dahlheimer Beverage in Monticello. Dahlheimer is a family-owned small business beer distributor registered as an LLC. Under Governor Dayton’s tax plan to tax the top two percent of income earners, Dahlheimer will be taxed at a higher rate. Imposing that tax would take away Dahlheimer’s ability to hire, expand, and purchase capital. I continue to oppose raising taxes on small business owners.
I also participated in an I-94 town hall event on Friday in St. Michael. We were fortunate to have DFL House Transportation Finance Committee Chairman Frank Hornstein participate in the event so he could hear from local mayors, city council members, county commissioners, and local business leaders. I left the meeting feeling optimistic about our ability to work collaboratively on this initiative so that I-94 can be a safe and efficient means of travel for all who use it.
As the legislative session moves forward, I am interested in your feedback. Please feel free to contact me by e-mail at Rep.Marion.ONeill@House.MN or contact my office at 651-296-5063. You can also send me mail to my office address: 229 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155. Please feel free to share this e-mail with your family, friends, and neighbors so they can sign up and stay in touch.