The 2018 legislative session begins on Tuesday and I am looking forward to another year representing you and your family in St. Paul. I am hopeful that we will build on the successes of last session and continue to make Minnesota a great place to live, work, and raise a family.
This session, as we enter the second year of the legislative biennium, I would expect lawmakers to focus more of our energy on policy-focused initiatives.
Federal Tax Conformity
Late last year, President Trump signed into law the largest piece of federal tax reform legislation in decades. Due to this, millions of Americans are already seeing more dollars in their paychecks. Beyond the effect these reforms are having for every day Americans, federal tax reform also has fiscal impacts on Minnesota’s budget. This leaves lawmakers with a decision: conform to the new federal tax code or let things stay the same.
If we do nothing—no tax conformity or tax changes—the process of filing in Minnesota, along with compliance and auditing, will be a mess. Think about some of the issues MNLARS and MNsure have had but apply that frustration to tax returns.
If the state does decide to conform to the new tax code, we will likely experience a massive increase in tax revenue. The House Tax Committee will then have to take steps to make sure the increased tax revenue is returned to the taxpayers to prevent any type of widespread tax increase.
Either way, I expect us to act on tax conformity in one way or another, although it remains to be seen to what extent.
I expect a bonding bill to be discussed this session as the second year of the legislative biennium is traditionally the “bonding” year.
The governor has already come out and proposed a $1.5 billion package, $600 million more than what is planned for in the budget forecast. Clearly such a large number is a non-starter for most of my colleagues in the House. If any bill is agreed to, it will certainly be much less than what the governor is proposing and will be heavily focused on infrastructure and transportation needs.
Other Issues to be Addressed
There are a number of other issues that will likely be discussed this session in addition to tax conformity and bonding.
I predict the MNLARS debacle will be addressed this year as we look at ways to fix the mess the Dayton Administration has created with the failed implementation of this new vehicle licensing system. The administration just recently asked for an additional $43 million to “fix” the system on top of the $100 million and 10 years already spent on the project.
Simply put, Minnesotans should not be forced to foot the bill to clean up this mess and I am hopeful that we can find a solution to this significant problem this session.
I also anticipate that we will continue our work of bringing down the costs and improving access to better health care for all Minnesotans including new methods and treatments to help combat the opioid epidemic sweeping across the state.
Staying in touch
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As always, do not hesitate to contact me to discuss any questions, comments, or concerns you may have regarding the legislature. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-8237 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also stay connected with me by visiting my Facebook page.