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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Marion Rarick (R)

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Legislative Update (April 22, 2013)

Monday, April 22, 2013

Dear neighbor,


It’s been a very busy week at the legislature and I’m expecting this week to be just as busy.


Last Saturday, the House was in session to take up the State Government Finance omnibus bill. Because this bill spends $921 million – $26 million more than the 2014-2015 fiscal years base – I voted no on final passage. This proposal also wastes hard-earned taxpayer dollars by adding $622,000 in new funding for the Campaign Finance Board to add staff for bills that have not yet become law and a $7.5 million increase to the Minnesota Department of Management and Budget. One of the most egregious parts of this legislation is the elimination of the Sunset Commission. This legislative commission was set up by the Republican-led legislature and Governor Dayton to make recommendations on reducing government spending in various state government agencies and boards. Unfortunately, cutting wasteful spending does not seem to be a priority of House Democrats.


Speaking of wasteful spending, one of the omnibus bills the House passed last week was the House DFL “jobs” bill. Instead of promoting private-sector job growth, this bill spends taxpayer dollars on government programs like $28 million for Explore Minnesota advertising, $5 million to bail out St. Paul with loan forgiveness for the St. Paul River Centre, $400,000 for HOME Line, a tenant’s right group that lobbies the legislature (already funded from local governments and private donors), $360,000 to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development to hire consultants to rebrand state programs, among many other wasteful spending items. I had no problem voting no on this bill.


Another bill the House passed last week was the Environment and Agriculture omnibus bill. Not only does it waste taxpayer dollars – $300,000 on a bee habitat placed along State Park trails including $50,000 for bee habitat signage – it imposes higher water permit fees on Minnesotans. The increase will force cities, businesses, farmers, and agricultural processors, or anyone else that needs a water appropriation permit to pay dramatically higher fees for their permits. That higher cost is likely to be passed down to the end user – meaning you’ll be paying more for water. This was another bill that I voted against on final passage.


One bill that did pass with my support was the Public Safety omnibus bill. Because the bill did not contain gun control legislation, was responsible spending and focuses on keeping our communities safe, I voted yes on final passage.


As a member of the House Judiciary Committee, I wanted to support the Judiciary omnibus bill. Unfortunately, because the bill imposed fee increases on everyday Minnesotans who file small claims (increasing the fee from $65 to as much as $150), I had to vote against final passage of this bill. I hope that when the omnibus bill comes back from conference committee, the fee increases will be removed. I want to be able to vote for a bill that funds our third branch of government but doesn’t hinder people from filing small claims. 


While the Democrats in the legislature are proposing $2.6 billion in tax increases, and over $600 million in fee increases, I have been shocked that one of the areas they want to cut is a highly-successful treatment programs for teens and adults – Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge. As someone who used to work for Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge, I can attest to the success of this program.  Independent studies have documented a 75% success rate for those who complete the program.  It defies wisdom to me to cut $2 million from room and board for individuals struggling with addition issues. The program expenses are funded through private donations.  This is one of the best treatment programs in the State of Minnesota. We should be looking at funding effective programs in an efficient way and Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge is truly a gold standard in that respect. I’m dismayed that Democrats would put this program on the chopping block.


Tonight, the House is taking up the Health & Human Services omnibus bill. I admit I’m hesitant to support this legislation that cuts $55 million from nursing homes, yet somehow the House DFL has money to fund tree museums. Another example of misplaced priorities from the Democrats in St. Paul.


If you haven’t done so yet, please fill out my legislative survey for constituents on my House web page.


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.








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