Hello Friends and Neighbors,
This week at the legislature was filled with long floor sessions as the House debated and approved multiple omnibus bills covering a wide range of issues. Before the weekend gets underway, here is an update with a brief review of a few of those bills.
On Monday, the House passed the tax bill I discussed in last week’s update. This legislation will simplify Minnesota’s tax code to allow filers to fully benefit from federal tax reform and provide additional tax relief to middle-class Minnesotans. It will also deliver our state's first income tax rate cut in nearly two decades, allowing Minnesotans to keep more of their hard-earned money.
Health and Human Services and Transportation
On Tuesday, the House voted to approve a health and humans services and transportation package. The health and human services portion focuses on reducing health care costs for Minnesotans; combatting the opioid crisis; protecting vulnerable adults; preventing fraud and abuse of public programs; and preventing a wage cut for those that care for our disabled community.
The bill’s transportation portion builds on the successes of last year’s legislation that saw one of the largest investments in roads and bridges in history - all without raising the gas tax. This year’s transportation plan uses surplus funds leveraged with trunk highway bonds to spend $385 million on transportation needs this year. The plan is again heavily focused on investments in roads and bridges. Included in the funding is $25 million for county roads, $6.6 million for city roads, $2 million for township roads, and $7 million for Small Cities Assistance Program for cities under 5,000.
Jobs and Energy Bill
Lastly, the House passed legislation focused on job growth and energy affordability last night. The legislation includes supplemental funding for a number of state agencies related to economic development, energy and housing. Included is $15 million for rural broadband development grants; a nation-leading proposal supporting the Prairie Island Indian Community’s efforts to become a net-zero energy community; initiatives to lower energy costs for ratepayers; job training grants; and other programs and grants to help small-business startups.
Additional highlights from omnibus bills passed this week include:
- Funding for three new veterans homes in Minnesota with excess Stadium Reserve Funds
- $35 million in bonding revenue for farmer loans through Rural Finance Authority
- Requiring state agencies to spend 3.5 percent of their IT budget to support state cybersecurity
- Closing loopholes regarding the operation of a snowmobile or ATV for those who have been convicted of a DWI
- Strengthening and closing loopholes in Minnesota law surrounding criminal sexual conduct
Staying in Touch
In the final weeks of the legislative session, please feel free to contact me with any questions, thoughts, or concerns that you might have on any of the issues or bills that will be coming before me for a vote on the House floor. I appreciate the input I receive from constituents and would love to hear from you. I can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 651-296-8635.