Friends and Neighbors,
It has been such a busy first couple of weeks in Saint Paul! Starting my term in the House mid-way through the Legislative Session really has meant jumping in with both feet. Just in the last couple of weeks, we passed Real ID through the House, and the February economic forecast was announced. Here is a brief overview of each of those items and some others.
In my first week, the House passed our Real ID bill. As many of you may have heard, starting January 1st, 2018, Minnesotans will not be able to board domestic flights using their state driver’s license. Some military bases and other federal facilities are already not accepting Minnesota driver’s licenses as forms of identification.
The Real ID requirements were passed by the federal government if 2005 in an effort to improve national security in the wake of the 9-11 attacks. Essentially, the only difference between a standard Minnesota driver’s license and a Real ID-compliant license is that your information will be “pinged” off of an additional security database. This extra check is to confirm that your social security number is actually yours, and that you are a U.S. citizen or are permitted to have a license.
Our bill in the House will let you choose between getting a Real ID-compliant license or a standard license. You can decide which ID best suits your needs.
Real ID failed passage in the Senate yesterday, but House leadership is still negotiating ways for these measures to pass. I will keep you updated as this issue progresses.
Last Tuesday, the February economic forecast was announced, which tells the legislature how much money is available to start writing the state budget for 2018/19.
The budget forecast predicted that the state’s budget surplus has grown to $1.65 billion, a $250 million increase compared to last November’s forecast.
This continued increase in the budget surplus makes it even more clear that tax relief is long overdue in Minnesota. I have been working alongside my colleagues in the House toward passing substantial tax relief so that people in our district can keep more of their hard-earned dollars. There are a lot of innovative ideas for tax relief being debated at the Capitol that would impact our community in a positive way.
Social Security Income Tax Exemption
Many people have expressed a frustration to me regarding taxes on social security income. I have introduced a bill that would make social security benefits tax-exempt for middle class Minnesotans. This tax benefit would apply to couples filing joint returns or surviving spouses with a combined income of $75,000, and a $55,000 threshold for all other filers. I look forward to carrying this bill through the legislative process, and sincerely hope this tax relief will pass in the current biennium.
School Building Bond Agriculture Credit
This week the Property Tax Committee heard a bill creating a school building bond agriculture credit. The bill, HF603, is aimed at providing tax relief to agricultural homesteads, which often pay a disproportionately large share of school district debt service levies. Large portions of our community would benefit from this bill, and I look forward to supporting it as it continues to move through the House.
Please do not hesitate to contact me with your questions or concerns as issues arise. My door is always open, and I look forward to your input as we move forward with the legislative session.