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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Sondra Erickson (R)

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Legislative Update from Rep. Sondra Erickson

Friday, February 16, 2018

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

The 2018 legislative session is set to begin on Tuesday and I am looking forward to another year representing you, your family, and our values in St. Paul.

I am hoping that we can build on the successes of last year’s session that saw historic tax relief, investment in our roads and bridges, and important steps taken to lowering health care costs. I am also looking forward to continuing my work as Chair of the Education Innovation Policy Committee by ensuring that every child in Minnesota has the opportunity to receive a world-class education.

Here is a brief overview of a few of the “big-ticket” items that will likely be addressed this coming session.

Federal Tax Conformity

Late last year, President Trump signed into law the largest federal tax reform bill in decades. Millions of Americans are already seeing the benefits of these reforms with more money in their paychecks. Businesses as well as reinvesting record amounts of dollars back into their employees as well as a result of this historic legislation.

These reforms also have a fiscal impact on Minnesota’s budget. As a result we will have two options this session: conform to the new federal tax code or leave things the way they are.

If we do nothing, the process of filing your taxes in Minnesota will be very complicated, creating problems for compliance and auditing.

If we choose to conform, the state will likely see an uptick in tax collections. Due to this, the House Tax Committee will have to take steps to makes sure that the increased tax revenue the state would be seeing is properly returned to taxpayers.

Bonding

Although we passed a bonding bill last year, Governor Dayton has already proposed a $1.5 billion bonding package for this session. This is $600 million more than what is planned for in the budget forecast.

Because even years are generally “bonding” years, I would expect some type of bill to be discussed. However, if anything does materialize, it will be significantly less than what the governor is proposing and will be heavily focused on infrastructure and transportation improvements.

MNLARS Fix

With more than $100 million spent over ten years to build the new Minnesota Licensing and Registration System (MNLARS), Minnesotans still have nothing to show for it. Instead, deputy registrars and DMVs across the state have been plagued with delays as folks are forced to wait on vehicle titles, registration documents, and more. Minnesotans deserve a system that works quickly and efficiently and I expect serious reforms to be considered this session to fix this debacle.

Elder Abuse

Late last year, the Star Tribune produced a special report detailing abuse and neglect at Minnesota senior living facilities. Through the report, it was revealed that the Department of Health was aware of these incidents and failed to follow-up in a timely manner. During the upcoming legislative session, my colleagues and I in the House will look at reforms to ensure our aging loved ones are taken care of with the respect and dignity they deserve.

Pipelines

Governor Dayton has continually resisted major job creation projects in northern Minnesota including the now-canceled Sandpiper pipeline, the Twin Metals mining project, and Polymet. Now, the governor is resisting the much needed replacement for the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline. The aging pipeline is in serious need of repair to ensure communities through which the pipeline passes are protected from any spills or other type of disaster. The pipeline passes right through our district, including Milaca, and I am confident the legislature will explore our options to ensure progress is being made on this project.

Opioids

In 2016, the number of Minnesotans that died from opioid abuse rivaled the number of traffic fatalities. During the 2017 session, the legislature approved and funded an opioid abuse prevention pilot project. I am looking forward to continuing our work in combatting this terrible epidemic during the coming legislative session.

Staying Connected

Please visit and “like” my Facebook page for updates on all the important legislation and events that are taking place at the Capitol.

As always, please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or comments about issues that are important to you. My door is always open. If you would like to schedule a time to meet, please contact my office at rep.sondra.erickson@house.mn or 651-296-6746.

 Have a great weekend,

Sondra

 

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