News from Duane Quam, March 22

Hello from St. Paul,

This week, I was pleased to meet and talk with government students from Kasson-Mantorville when they visited the State Capitol.  I’m always encouraged to meet with students who are interested in how their government operates, and look forward to seeing other area school groups in St. Paul in the weeks ahead.

As we get closer to our session adjournment, both committee meetings and floor sessions become more time consuming as more bills are scheduled for discussion and debate.  With different deadlines approaching, our bills need to make their way through the committee process soon if they are going to be debated on the full House floor.

Personally, I had three bills before committee this week.  The first, HF2128, is a bill to update emergency medical services terminology, education requirements, and procedures to match nationally recognized conventions, standards, and requirements.

HF2917 would fix an obscure subdivision of law.  It would repeal a special limit that applies only to independent school districts located wholly or partially within a city of the first class.  However, Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Duluth are already exempted from it. Rochester became a city of the first class after the 2010 census.  This bill repeals the special limit that impacts only the Rochester, Byron and Stewartville school districts.

HF2890 proposes a paperless and technology project by the Byron School District. Byron has a history of excellence, fiduciary responsibility, innovation and creativity. While it’s per pupil funding is third from the bottom, Byron has received such nationally recognized awards as a high school National Blue Ribbon Award and the Intel Math Science Excellence Award.  Byron has also developed and rolled out a textbook less math curriculum, and a revolutionary flipped education approach.

Other members of the House Education Finance Committee stated that they’ve had school administrators comment to them about the impressive presentations Byron had given at events across the state, making it an excellent candidate for this pilot project.

Regarding House floor debates, on March 20 we had one that approached nine hours as we discussed the voter identification bill.  As you’ll recall from my update last week, the legislation would ask voters if they wanted to amend our Constitution in order to require photo identification from legal Minnesota residents prior to casting a ballot.  I’m pleased to report the legislation was approved by the full House on a 72-62 vote, and we expect the Minnesota Senate to debate this legislation on Friday.

The House has also approved the Tax Relief and Job Creation Act.  The goal of this proposal is to make Minnesota a more economically competitive and attractive place for job creation by focusing on the needs of Minnesota businesses and employment growth.

Some of the highlights of the bill include reducing – and eventually phasing out – the statewide business property tax rate to help businesses invest in jobs; emphasizing action for high growth industries to make Minnesota a magnet for the medical device and biotechnology industry; providing incentives to create a well-trained workforce in rural Minnesota; and targeting new benefits and reforming existing ones to ensure they help more Minnesota-based businesses, particularly those located outside of the Metro Area.

Talk to you soon,

Duane

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