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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Dave Lislegard (DFL)

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Legislative Update - March 1, 2019

Friday, March 1, 2019

Dear Neighbors,
The first two months of the legislative session are already behind us. Last week I had visits from folks like members of IBEW, and next week, I’m looking forward to meeting with members of USW during their Day on the Hill. Here’s an update from the State Capitol.
Small Business Taxes
At the House Taxes Committee yesterday, I had the opportunity to present HF 1435, a targeted tax cut for small businesses in the state of Minnesota. The bipartisan bill would increase the commercial-industrial market value excluded from the state general property tax to $150,000 from the current $100,000. To make sure no businesses experience a tax increase from this, the bill also reduces the total state general levy. Small businesses are the lifeblood of Main Streets like those throughout greater Minnesota. All businesses will benefit from this bill, but for small businesses that depend on every last dollar, this is an especially significant economic benefit.
Miners Memorial
On Monday, I was honored to have Virginia Mayor Larry Cuffe join me to present HF 667, my bill to officially authorize Virginia’s local option sales tax to raise money for the Miners Memorial Complex project. Last November, residents voted by an overwhelming margin of 68.84% to 31.16% to raise the sales tax locally by 1%, however, any sales tax approved locally also needs approval from the Legislature and the Governor.

Funding from the sales tax, in place up to 20 years, will go toward the needed renovation, reconstruction, expansion, and improvement of the facility. This is an important initiative for both the city of Virginia as well as the entire region, taking advantage of the facility’s historic value, as well as looking to the future for both economic development and community building. The House Property and Local Tax Division “laid over” the bill for future consideration in a larger package of tax legislation.
Budget Outlook
Yesterday the February Economic Forecast was released, giving us a clearer picture of state budget as we move forward this session. We’re still in a good economic position, but the outlook has weakened, with a $1.052 billion positive budget balance compared to the $1.5 billion projected in November. Another piece of positive news from the forecast: the Iron Range economy continues to head in the right direction, with iron ore exports in the third quarter of 2018 42 percent higher than the previous year. Jobs in both mining and logging continue to grow, and I hope we can soon take advantage of opportunities on the horizon, like Polymet and the Nashwauk site.
Overall, the slowing economic growth makes it all the more crucial for us to build toward the future, prioritizing the things we all value, like quality affordable health care, strong schools, and economic security for all of us. Challenges such as out of control health care costs, high tuition, retirement insecurity, child care expenses, and more threaten our future success and I look forward to working with my colleagues to build solutions.
Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women
I’m committed to ensuring all Minnesotans, no matter where they live or what background they may come from, can be safe. Unfortunately, many Native women and girls in our state have become victims of an ongoing Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women endemic. Legislators have heard heartbreaking stories of them being kidnapped, trafficked, and sexually assaulted. Currently, there is no formal state or national system in place to collect data on these Minnesotans.
HF 111, a bill of which I’m a proud co-author, would create a task force to develop strategies to address this. The panel would be charged with providing analysis regarding the systemic causes behind the number of missing Native American women in the state with the goal of better understanding the causes of violence against Indigenous women and to prevent it. The task force will be made up of members of the Indigenous community, law enforcement, policymakers and the public. I look forward to enthusiastically supporting it on the House Floor.
Please continue to contact me with your feedback on these and other issues important to you. I value your input, so I hope you’ll feel free to call or email me any time. It’s an honor to represent you.
Dave Lislegard
State Representative