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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Josh Heintzeman (R)

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Legislative Update from Rep. Heintzeman (2-13-15)

Friday, February 13, 2015

Friends and Neighbors,

We learned late last week that Governor Dayton handed out double-digit taxpayer-funded pay raises to members of his cabinet and other political appointees. Many of these individuals were already receiving six-figure salaries. The pay raises range from 19% to 58% with one of the governor’s appointees receiving an $84,000 raise from the previous year’s salary.

While the governor is certainly to be held responsible for handing out these raises, it should be noted that the governor was granted the ability to unilaterally give members of his cabinet raises due to a law passed in 2013 by the DFL led majority.

This law allows the limit on salaries for commissioners to move from 85 or 95 percent of the governor’s salary to 133 percent. It also allows the governor to raise the pay of his commissioners without legislative or public approval.

Efforts are underway to remove the power to unilaterally raise commissioner's pay from the governor’s grasp, as a bill was introduced this week that would return this authority to the legislature.

While the governor has certainly endured criticism from the public and House Republicans, Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, a Democrat, has also criticized the governor’s pay raises. On Thursday, the Democrat-controlled Senate voted to delay the pay hikes. The measure passed on a 63-2 vote. At this point, it seems that the only one left defending this decision is the governor himself.

Property Tax Listening Session

A reminder that I will be hosting a property tax listening session in Brainerd on Saturday, February 14th at the Central Lakes College cafeteria, 501 West College Drive, in Brainerd from 9:00 to 10:00 am. Joining me at this event will be Chairman of the House Property Tax and Local Government Aid Committee, Rep. Steve Drazkowski. I encourage you to attend to let Chair Drazkowski and myself know how property taxes are affecting you, your family, and your business.

Veterans Retirement Bill Clears First Hurdle

A bill that I chief authored, House File 299, passed the Veterans Affairs Division on Monday.

HF 299 exempts retired veterans’ pensions from state income taxes. It’s unfortunate that Minnesota is one of only a handful of states that fully tax veteran retirement benefits. Our veterans deserve better and this bill is a step in the right direction—thanking our veterans and their families for their sacrifice and service to our nation.

HF 299 has been referred to the Tax Committee where it awaits a hearing.

Local Events and Visits

This morning I was fortunate to have toured the Mid-Minnesota Women’s Center as well as the Alex and Brandon Child Safety Center in Brainerd.

The Mid-Minnesota Women's Center provides a safe refuge for women and children who are suffering abuse. They serve residents of Cass, Crow Wing, Morrison, Todd, and Wadena Counties.

Opened in 2000, the Alex and Brandon Child Safety Center offers a safe and kid-oriented environment where families in crisis can visit with each other under supervision by trained staff. Parents who have unsupervised visits with their children, but are experiencing conflict over visitation can also exchange their kids at the Center without having contact with each other.

Both of these organizations do a great job of providing services to families and individuals who are in need and I was happy to meet with them and learn more about what they do.

Staying in Touch

Liking” my Facebook page and “following” me on Twitter are both great ways to stay connected with what is going on here in St. Paul.

If you are planning on being in St. Paul this session, please feel free to contact my office by phone at 651-296-4929 or via email at to set up an appointment. It would be an honor to speak with you and discuss ways we can make Minnesota better.