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Legislative News and Views - Rep. John Poston (R)

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Capitol Newsletter from Rep. John Poston

Friday, April 27, 2018

Dear Neighbors,

It was a busy week at the Capitol as omnibus supplemental finance bills have started to make their way to the floor for approval by the House. On Thursday, the House passed its education omnibus bill which funds school security improvements, addresses student mental health, and brings more transparency to education.

A huge component of this year’s bill was school safety. Following the tragedy in Parkland, Florida, it has been my commitment to find solutions that not only work to improve school safety but are also broadly supported and have a realistic chance to become law.

To that end, I am proud of our multifaceted approach that gives school districts the flexibility they need to leverage resources to tailor their specific needs.

Here are some highlights from the education bill:

  • A multifaceted approach to give school districts the resources and flexibility they need to address student safety and security. That includes expanding the use of long-term facilities maintenance revenue for facility security upgrades, strengthening the state’s commitment to school-linked mental health grants, supporting suicide prevention training for teachers, increasing funding for Safe Schools Revenue, and more
  • Strengthening and clarifying state law to address teacher misconduct and teacher licensure including prohibiting sexual relationships between educators and students and requiring periodic teacher background checks; and prohibiting the issuance or renewal of a teacher/administrative license or bus driver endorsement for certain felonies or gross misdemeanors involving a minor
  • Requiring the Minnesota Department of Education to create a School Report Card —a one-stop-spot for summative and easily accessible school and district ratings that will provide families with a place to research, compare and help determine which school will work best for their child
  • Enhancing the transparency of school funding and our commitment to tackling our state’s achievement gap by doubling the number of school audits each year. These audits will discern whether or not education dollars allocated to school districts and dedicated to special education, English-learner and low-income students are reaching the students intended
  • Ensuring students are exposed to a wide variety of post-secondary options including the trades and branches of the military
  • Creating a Special Education Working Group to engage stakeholders and examine the factors that are driving rising costs

Tax Conformity Proposals Released

Over the weekend, House Republicans released their plan to conform Minnesota’s tax code to changes made at the federal level. In summation, our plan seeks to simplify Minnesota’s code while also lowering taxes for Minnesotans.

Highlights include:

  • Helping middle-class Minnesotans keep more of what they earn by cutting the second tier income tax rate from 7.05% to 6.75% by tax year 2020. This would mark the first income tax rate reduction in Minnesota since 2000.
  • Lowering taxes for people at all income levels by increasing the standard deduction from $13,000 to $14,000.
  • Protecting families by preserving a state personal and dependent exemption of $4,150.
  • Encouraging affordable homeownership by allowing a state-itemized deduction of up to $30,000 in property taxes.
  • Supporting hometown businesses and farmers by reinvesting extra revenue from corporate tax changes into Section 179 conformity and overall rate reductions.

Conversely, Governor Dayton’s plan will raise taxes on Minnesotans of all income levels. In fact, analysis by his own Department of Revenue found that Minnesotans making less than $32,000 a year will be hit hardest by his proposal. In total, he is seeking to reinstate more than $1 billion in health care tax increases and to repeal tax reductions that were enacted last session.

Again, this is a very complicated issue, but I remain hopeful that we will find some sort of resolution before the legislative session is finished.

Staying in Touch

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Bruce Kinnunen and Chad Bullock from the West Central Telephone Association in Sebeka visited this week, thanks for stopping by!

We need all the help we can get to remove any leftover opioids left in homes that need proper disposal. 

That’s why I’m asking you to take part in the 15th annual National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, sponsored by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and is taking place this Saturday, April 28. Learn more and locate a collection site near you on the Minnesota’s Hospitals: Strengthening Healthy Communities website and on the DEA website.

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If you ever have any questions, comments, or concerns regarding any issue related to state government, please feel free to contact me at either 651-296-4293, or