I'm always grateful to have visitors from the Iron Range come to the Capitol! For AFSCME's Day on the Hill, I got to visit with Richard "Dick" Benson, a 90-year-old member who retired from Virginia Public Utilities. He remembered I had Tommy Rukavina's chair in my office, so of course I gave him the chance to sit in it! Steve Giorgi, another retired AFSCME member and the current director of RAMS joined as well.
Yesterday was Veterans Day on the Hill! Thanks to everyone who has worn the uniform of our great country and those who came to the Capitol to spend time with me and Sen. Grant Hauschild, advocating for the strong future all veterans deserve!
Advancing Property Tax Cuts
With Revenue Commissioner (and former House colleague) Paul Marquart
This year, I began a new role as Chair of the House Property Tax Division, and last week, our committee wrapped up what’s known as our “division report,” legislation containing a $648 million package of solutions to cut property taxes while strengthening the vitality of communities across our great state.
The bill expands the Homestead Credit Refund program, also known as the “circuit breaker,” targeting assistance to those who would benefit the most. $41.8 million in additional property tax refunds would result from this change in the upcoming biennium, with another $84.9 million in the following two years.
It helps renters by reforming the Renter’s Property Tax Refund, also known as the Renter’s Credit, incorporating the refund onto a filer’s income taxes. This change would result in additional refunds totaling $378.6 million over the coming biennium.
I’m also incredibly proud of the groundbreaking new investment of $100 million for Local Government Aid and $100 million for County Program Aid. This funding will help our local communities tackle increasing costs as they deliver critical public services we all count on while keeping property taxes in check. The legislation now goes to the full Taxes Committee, and in the coming weeks, I look forward to working on a broader package of tax cuts and other important budget bills to build a more prosperous state.
Boosting Film Production in Minnesota
I’m proud to author legislation expanding Minnesota’s film and TV production tax credit, a tool I helped create two years ago to build a powerful economic development opportunity for our state. The program originally had a modest $5 million investment, and this year I have a bill – which has received two committee hearings – to expand it to $25 million. There are numerous movie, TV, and streaming projects looking for places to go, and with four distinct seasons, diverse landscapes and communities, and hardworking people, Minnesota is an attractive place to film. However, the economic reality is producers will pick sites where they have an incentive package. I experienced this first-hand as part of the “North Country” cast in 2000 when – while filming a story about the Iron Range – the production picked up and moved to New Mexico because that state offered a better incentive. These projects create jobs, stimulate communities, and help us tell stories, and I hope we can take advantage of these opportunities right here in Minnesota.
The Capital Investment Committee also recently held a hearing on my bill to invest in a new film studio in Chisholm. The project, which would upgrade space in city hall, would attract film productions to the region, create job opportunities and foster economic growth. Thanks to everyone who made the trip down to share all about this project!
Investing in Housing
At the Legislature, we hear real stories all the time about how the lack of housing is impacting Minnesotans. I had the opportunity to present legislation to the Housing Committee to invest $2 million toward the Northland Foundation’s efforts to create a hub serving as a one-stop-shop to help communities navigate complex systems as they work to create housing opportunities. The Northland Foundation has a track record of experience building relationships and putting funds to their best use. Thank you to Northland Foundation President and CEO (and former House Majority Leader) Tony Sertich for joining me to present the bill, and for all your leadership to strengthen our region!
Safety at Oil Refineries
Oil refineries can be hazardous places where one wrong move can mean catastrophe for workers, the facility, and the surrounding community. I’m the author of a bill to require a certain percentage of employees of contractors at these sites to have registered apprenticeship-level training or five years of equivalent experience.
While the registered apprenticeship programs through our labor unions are the gold standard for workers to develop the proper skills to do a proper job, this bill isn’t about union vs. non-union; it’s about worksite safety and the value of skilled professionals on the job who take safety seriously. The legislation has earned approval by several committees and I hope to have it brought to the House Floor soon.
You’re invited to contact me to share your input and ideas, or if I can ever be of assistance. Please contact me anytime. It’s an honor to serve you at the State Capitol.