Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Today the legislature concluded its business for the 2014 legislative session and adjourned sine die. Barring extraordinary circumstances, the legislature will not convene again until 2015.
This past week has been busy as the House and Senate worked to complete the bonding bill, a second tax cut bill and other legislation that went to conference committee.
Here is some information on some of the bills from the closing hours:
Second Tax Cut Bill
The House voted unanimously today to approve about $103 million for property tax relief largely targeted to Greater Minnesota cities and farmers who have seen skyrocketing property taxes in recent years due to large increases in land value.
In addition to property tax credits for homeowners, renters, and farmers, the tax bill included language that will help aid the construction of a critical pipeline in Southwest Minnesota that will bring clean drinking water to an area that has been struggling with water shortages in recent years.
Republicans have advocated for the budget surplus to be returned to taxpayers in the form of tax cuts, so I was pleased to join my Democrat colleagues in voting for this tax relief measure.
One of the unexpected hot button issues of the 2014 session was medical marijuana. While I recognize the need of the children and families to get treatment for their medical conditions, I could not vote for the bill in its current form. The bill lacked oversight and improperly empowered the Department of Health with duties and responsibilities that it simply may not be trained or equipped to do. The Commissioner of Public Health even testified that she was unsure about whether the Department had the capacity to implement the law properly.
Moreover, as a former educator I have concerns about the long-term impacts of marijuana on children. We simply don't know yet what effect marijuana has on the brains of young children, and it's irresponsible as legislators lacking medical expertise to be approving treatments not approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
In even-numbered years the state typically passes a bonding bill, which acts like a credit card for the state to build infrastructure and other construction projects that cities and counties otherwise may not be able to afford. I could not support the bonding bill because of the irresponsible and wasteful projects it funds that add debt to the state's credit card. Some examples of wasteful projects include snowmaking equipment in Duluth, a ski chalet, and tens of millions for Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis. A bonding bill that is truly focused on priorities would have included more funding for roads, bridges, and other critical infrastructure needs—not things that would simply be nice to have.
If you have any questions about these or any of the other legislation passed in the final days of session, please don't hesitate to contact my office by calling 651-296-6746 or emailing email@example.com.
Have a great weekend,