With less than three weeks to go, before the legislature must adjourn by May 21, things continue to move at a rapid pace in St. Paul. Among items to finish:
- Passing a supplemental budget and having Governor Dayton sign it into law.
- Passing a tax conformity package
- Addressing elder care
- Passing a bonding bill
This week, the Senate passed dozens of smaller and technical bills off the Senate floor; I expect that work to continue up until the very end of session. I will continue to keep you updated – meanwhile, here’s the latest from the Capitol:
This week, the Senate passed its tax bill. The legislation brings Minnesota’s tax code into conformity with the federal tax overhaul passed by Congress last year and protects nearly all Minnesotans from a tax increase. An estimated 82 percent of Minnesota residents will see a tax reduction under the bill.
Minnesotans are already reaping the benefits of the historic tax overhaul passed by Congress. This legislation makes sure those benefits are felt at the state level, too. The legislation drops the lowest income tax rate by a quarter of a percent and allows Minnesotans to keep popular tax deductions for mortgage and home equity loan interest, property taxes, and charitable donations. In total, nearly 2.1 million Minnesota households will benefit from these changes.
In addition to an income tax rate reduction, the legislation maintains the state personal and dependent exemption of $4,150 and the state standard deduction of $13,000, extends the $5 million angel investor tax credit, fully conforms to Section 179 of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax code, and uses the FAGI model to separate the state tax code from the federal tax code. Finally, the legislation includes an automatic reduction of individual income tax rates when a significant projected budget surplus exists.
The bill now heads into negotiations with the House before sending it to the governor for his signature.
Education Policy Bill
This week, the Senate passed a comprehensive education policy bill that will increase parental involvement in student discipline, improve students’ data privacy, and upgrade school safety. Included in the bill:
- Requires school boards to adopt a threat assessment policy
- Denies teacher’s licenses to people who have committed serious crimes
- Protects students’ online privacy by forbidding school internet service providers from profiting on student data.
- Prevents students from being “shamed” or their meal withdrawn if their school lunch accounts are underfunded.
- Improves student literacy by increasing school efforts to identify cases of dyslexia and enables teachers to be more effective with dyslexic students.
- Prevents sexual exploitation and trafficking through sexual exploitation prevention and consent instruction.
- Permits student absences related to enlistment in the U.S. Armed Forces.
- Encourages school counselors to present armed forces opportunities to students, and allows military recruiters access to schools on the same basis as higher education or prospective employers.
Last year, the legislature passed a historically-productive budget that significantly cut taxes, infused over $2 billion into roads and bridges, and stabilized the health insurance market when it was on the brink of collapse. The supplemental budget bill is a modest supplemental spending proposal that mirrors our modest budget surplus, but still has the potential to significantly improve the lives of Minnesotans. The supplemental budget still needs to be reconciled with the version passed by the House and signed into law by the governor. Here’s an overview:
- $19.8 million in Safe Schools Revenue to hire school counselors and school resource officers, develop mental health programming, make facility improvements, and more.
- Grants for professional school building audits to identify areas for security improvements.
- Mental health counseling support for farm families.
- Requires doctors use the Prescription Monitoring Program to combat opioid use.
- Provides grants for opioid abuse prevention programs.
- Makes health care pricing more transparent by avoiding hidden costs and saving people money on prescription drugs.
- Helps students with college costs via workforce development scholarships for students entering high-demand occupations, student loan debt counseling, loan forgiveness for agricultural educators, and more affordable textbooks.
- Increases high-speed internet access in underserved areas through a $15 million investment in the Border-to-Border Broadband grant program.
- Expedites the processing of vehicle title transactions held up by the failed MNLARS system.
- Holds government accountable for recent software development disasters and attempts to avoid future failures by restructuring MN.IT and allowing state agencies to hire qualified outside contractors.
- Protects the agriculture industry from unnecessary, overreaching nitrogen fertilizer rules that have not been approved by the legislature.
Some of the Visitors at the Capitol
Homes For All Campaign
Kellogg Middle School in Rochester
Meeting with members of Kenyan’s Parliament
Minnesota State Senate
3401 Minnesota Senate Building
95 University Ave W
St. Paul, MN 55155