I hope this email finds you and your family doing well. Summer is just around the corner and I’m looking forward to things returning to normal soon. The best way to ensure we can all safely have the Minnesota summer we’re looking forward to is to have as many people as possible receive the COVID-19 vaccine. With 60 percent of residents 16 or older getting at least one dose, St. Louis County is outpacing the overall state average of 57 percent. Let’s keep up the progress! If you haven’t yet gotten your shot, the Minnesota Vaccine Connector can put you in touch with opportunities to get vaccinated.
New State Budget
Overall, the biggest responsibility for lawmakers this session is to enact a new two-year state budget. The House has approved all of our budget bills off the floor, all of which were put together with the goal of helping workers, small businesses, students, and families all emerge from the challenges of the past year with the ability to succeed and thrive. Here are each of the bills we’ve passed:
The next step is for joint House/Senate conference committees to review differences between each chamber’s versions of the budget bills and ultimately reach a bipartisan compromise. Our ability to work together and seek common ground is the type of government Minnesotans expect and deserve. In the session’s final weeks, I’m committed to putting people before politics to ensure all Minnesotans can have a strong future.
For my part, I’m honored to serve on the House Taxes Conference Committee. Our House Tax bill recognizes that COVID-19 didn’t impact Minnesotans equally – with small businesses bearing a large share of the brunt – and seeks to level the playing field to aid in our recovery. It exempts most federal Paycheck Protection Program loans from state taxes and provides aid for small businesses that didn’t receive a PPP loan at all or didn’t profit in 2020. Additionally, it exempts COVID-19 unemployment insurance payments from state taxes, expands the Working Family Credit, and delivers property tax assistance to more than one million homeowners and renters. This means that qualified homeowners would receive bigger Homestead Credit refunds and qualified renters would receive bigger Renters Property Tax Refunds. The bill includes several provisions I’ve chief authored including a film production tax credit, an increase in the commercial-industrial tax exemption, and sales tax exemptions for Virginia’s public safety facility and the Rock Ridge school district’s construction projects.
To make this help for small businesses and families a reality, the bill creates a new fifth-tier income tax rate for those earning more than $1 million per year; that’s people making over $20,000 a week. It also ends many accounting gimmicks that allow multinational corporations to hide profits in offshore tax havens like Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.
I encourage you to follow along with our work as we reach a budget compromise. Every day, House Public Information Services has nonpartisan informative resources including Session Daily and streaming video of committee meetings and floor sessions.
On Wednesday, the Minnesota Supreme Court issued a ruling regarding PolyMet’s permitting. In my view, the court’s ruling was a positive step forward for the region and for our robust regulatory process. After repeated efforts to destroy this project, mining opponents were defeated on many fronts even as they claim victory. The supporters of this project will stand firm, upheld by the substantial scientific record as the agencies work through the remaining steps to reinstate all permits.
When all is said and done, I believe the project will continue to show it meets and exceeds all scientific and legal standards. I encourage PolyMet to continue all appropriate preparation to move toward construction. I had the opportunity to share some thoughts with WDIO news. You can watch the story here.
Rent, Utility, and Heating Help Available
The last year has been impossibly difficult for many families. As a result of COVID-19’s economic hardship, I recognize many folks may be having bills pile up. Help is available.
As part of recent federal stimulus legislation, the state of Minnesota is receiving $375 million toward housing assistance. To get this money to those who need it, Minnesota Housing has launched RentHelpMN to provide assistance with rent or utility bills for low- and moderate-income Minnesotans. Resources are also available for landlords. Visit renthelpmn.org for more information or to apply. Additionally, a Renter’s Checklist is available here to help determine eligibility and ensure you have everything needed to apply.
While the temperature is warming up, some Minnesotans may be behind on heating bills from this past winter. The state’s Energy Assistance Program can provide resources with utility bills, help with shutoff prevention, fuel deliveries, or furnace repair or replacement. Learn more here from the Department of Commerce.
Please contact me to share your input on issues important to you, or if I can ever be of assistance. It’s an honor to represent you.