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

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Legislative Update - April 17, 2019

Wednesday, April 17, 2019
Dear Neighbors,
I’m always grateful to hear from the hardworking union members of the Iron Range. Recently, AFSCME members held their annual Day at the Capitol, and Governor Walz joined me in visiting with them.

Members of our building trades, including those from the Operating Engineers Local 49, Laborers, and Carpenters Unions stopped by my office as well.

Last Tuesday was the biennial “Ranger Party” at Mancini’s in Saint Paul. This event, organized by the members of the Iron Range Delegation, gives us all an opportunity to set aside political differences and get to know one another a bit better. This year’s party was extra special, as we got to honor the memory of Tom Rukavina. The Iron Range Delegation which I am proud to be a part of, is working for what’s best for the region. I also want to thank the many Iron Rangers who made the trip down for the occasion.
While there has been increased rancor in our politics as of late, this is a tradition which I hope can continue, and help us bridge some divides. The Star Tribune had a write-up about the event here.

House committees have finished their work assembling the various pieces of our “Minnesota Values Budget.” The Legislature is now on a weeklong recess to observe the Easter and Passover holidays. When we return, the full House will be taking up these bills. This week provides a good opportunity to dive deep into the details, and for us to take input from the public. For my part, I remain steadfast in my commitment to put people before politics and I’ll work to deliver a budget that truly improves the lives of all Minnesotans.

Tax Bill Levels Playing Field, Builds Great Future, Simplifies Filing Process

Serving as Vice Chair of the House Taxes Committee, I’ve been committed to improving Minnesota’s tax system to make it fairer for families, work better for communities, and truly enable our state to grow. I’m pleased that the Tax Bill we put together accomplishes all of these things. Rep. Paul Marquart from Dilworth, the chair of the committee, had an excellent op-ed in yesterday’s Star Tribune discussing the bill. To download a fact sheet about the tax bill, click here.
We’ve seen income inequality grow, with more of the money being controlled by the largest corporations. There’s nothing wrong with being successful, but we need to ensure the playing field is level for everyone. Our tax bill closes corporate loopholes and targets offshore tax havens to ensure everyone pays their fair share. When massive corporations doing business in Minnesota hide money to avoid paying taxes, it means other people and businesses have to pay more. Not only that, but fewer resources are then available for schools, health care, public safety, and so many other things we all count on. These reforms in our tax bill enable us to boost our investments in education and the other things we all value.
The tax bill also includes several other measures I’ve been working on this session, including a significant increase in Local Government Aid, which helps our communities deliver key local services without relying too heavily on property tax increases. My bill to improve the distribution of Taconite Municipal Aid was also included in our tax bill, as was approval of Virginia’s local option sales tax for the Miners Memorial project.
I’ve also been working this session to expand opportunities for film productions in Minnesota, and one way to do this is through targeted tax incentives. Other states have experienced success with this approach growing their economies and as we compete with other states and Canada for feature films, this can boost our economy. There are several different ways to accomplish this, and our House tax bill contains a sales tax exemption for film production. Beyond just the economic gains, filmmaking in Minnesota gives us an opportunity to tell our stories. 

Additionally, I’m pleased the House Tax Bill includes the city of Virginia’s $5.4 million worth of gap funding for the Highway 53 bridge construction. The measure renaming the bridge after Tom Rukavina is also included. This honors someone who was a friend to all of us while making the community financially whole. The community has been more than patient for this funding and I’m committed to getting it over the finish line.


Capital Investment Bill Strengthens Minnesota Infrastructure 

Throughout the state, public infrastructure is aging. The House Capital Investment Committee has put together a robust package of public infrastructure investments, including $1.5 billion toward roads, bridges, higher education, wastewater treatment, and many other capital projects around the state. In our region, the bill includes $2.8 million toward the Northeast Regional Corrections Center. You can find a full list of the projects included in the Capital Investment Bill here.
This is just the start of a conversation as the Senate’s leadership has indicated reluctance to move a Capital Investment bill forward this year. I’m hopeful we can come together to take advantage of interest rates while they are still low to protect our infrastructure and along with that, create some good-paying job opportunities.
Please continue to contact me with your viewpoints and ideas. It’s an honor to represent you.
Dave Lislegard
State Representative