Hello from the State Capitol,
During a session where some high-profile bills have been rushed through House, skipping steps in the process, that certainly has not been the case with legislation that would legalize recreational marijuana for adults.
In fact, this bill (H.F. 100) is quite the opposite, with a dozen committee hearings already logged and more in its future. The latest stop was in the House Transportation and Policy Committee, on which I serve, and I am pleased to have successfully added three separate amendments to the bill. By accepting my amendments, the bill left our committee in better shape than we received it.
My amendments worked into the bill include:
- Increasing funding for Drug Recognition Evaluator training for police – the most effective way to determine impairment until a roadside test if available.
- Reducing the maximum amount a person can possess in their home from 5 pounds to 1.5 pounds.
- Eliminating a provision in the bill related to diversity plans as a requisite for licensure.
The bill left committee with bipartisan support, which keeps it moving through the process so a lot more work can take place to put the proposal in finished form. It now heads to a House committee on commerce, where I am told the three amendments I successfully offered officially will be added. Click here for brief footage of Rep. Stephenson (the author of H.F. 100) committing to me he will accept the amendment I offered to the bill regarding possession amounts.
Where is Social Security relief?
The 2023 legislative session is now in its 11th week, yet there still has been no sign on the House floor of legislation to fully end the state tax on Social Security. Many Democrats said they were all-in for a repeal of the Social Security tax last fall, but now the majority has left bills related to this subject on the back burner.
Minnesota is one of just 12 states that still tax social security benefits. This is just one way our state’s tax structure is unfriendly to retirees, driving away residents as reports show our state loses vastly more domestic residents each year to other states than it gains. Business and personal finance publisher Kiplinger lists Minnesota among its “not tax-friendly” states for retirees, indicating, “The North Star State offers cold comfort on the tax front to retirees.”
A full repeal of the state Social Security tax would benefit an estimated 473,000 people with an average tax savings of $1,276. In contrast, Gov. Tim Walz’s budget proposal doesn’t fully repeal this tax, with only an estimated 43% of Minnesotans receiving some form of relief – on average, $278 per household.
With a $17.6 billion state budget surplus, and price increases straining family budgets, the time is right for a full repeal. Let’s do the right thing for our seniors and get this done.
House Republicans have urged the majority to bring urgency to this issue but, so far, that has not happened. The minority has moved on multiple occasions this session to cast a simple up-or-down floor vote on ending the state Social Security tax. You would think, after all the talk we heard last fall, this proposal would have wide, bipartisan support as a stand-alone bill. Unfortunately, walking the walk has been more difficult for the majority, which has prevented this legislation from reaching the floor each time it has been offered by the minority.
Here is a link to a quick video clip from the House floor, where I recently rose to make a case for taking a vote of the body on legislation to end the state Social Security tax.
Have a good weekend, please stay in touch and let me know how I can help.