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

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Legislative Update (5-1-15)

Friday, May 1, 2015

Dear Neighbors,

A number of omnibus finance and policy bill were debated and approved by the House this week. Here is a recap of a handful of the bills that were passed.

Education Finance Omnibus Bill

Last Saturday, April 25th, the House passed the education omnibus bill. As chair of the Education Innovation Committee, I am pleased with the work put into this bill to ensure the every child has the opportunity to obtain a world-class education.

In total, the budget bill spends $16.867 billion for Fiscal Years 2016-17, a $1.06 billion increase over current spending and includes a number of reforms to empower teachers and schools, give flexibility to school districts, prioritize early childhood learning and provide fairer funding.

A major component of the bill is a $178 statewide increase in biennial per pupil funding. That breaks down to a $166 increase for the metro area, $193 for Greater Minnesota and $168 for Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Additionally, the bill prioritizes early childhood learning with a $30 million increase for early learning scholarships and a $9.5 million increase for school readiness aid.

Also included in the bill are numerous policy reforms that work to empower local schools, teachers, and administrators. Some of the measures taken to achieve this include:


  • Reduced student testing
  • Reforming the seniority-only policy for teacher retention

  • Streamlining and clarifying the out-of-state teacher licensure process

  • Allowing districts to tap community experts for vocational, technical and career education programs

Ultimately, this bill is a student-focused plan that works to maintain Minnesota’s high standard of educational excellence. We have included a number of innovative reforms that will help to close the achievement gap, one of which is encouraging a more diverse teaching force.

Education is a top priority for all Minnesotans, and our bill will continue our strong tradition of outstanding schools and teachers here in Minnesota.

Middle Class Tax Relief

The House passed the omnibus tax bill on Wednesday evening. This bill provides $2 billion in tax relief to middle-class families, college students, aging adults & veterans, farmers and job creators & innovators.

Highlights from the bill include:


  • 2,045,000 Minnesotans could receive relief through a NEW state version of the personal or dependent exemption on tax returns equal to 25 percent of the federal exemption.
  • 366,500 aging adults living on fixed income could receive relief from the phasing-out of the tax on social security.

  • 240,000 farmers could receive relief through a property tax credit that reduces their disproportionate share of school district debt service.

  • 130,000 families with pre-kindergarteners could receive relief through the expansion of the education deduction to include pre-kindergarten expenses.

  • 109,500 college students could receive student loan debt relief through a NEW tax credit for principal and interest loan payments on student loans.

The bill passed with bipartisan support and proves that we can invest in things that matter most to Minnesotans like roads and bridges, education, and our nursing homes, while still offering tax relief to Minnesotans.

Investing In our Rural Nursing Homes

Early Wednesday morning, the House passed the Health and Human Services omnibus bill. This bill works to protect the most vulnerable, while expanding access to quality, affordable care for all Minnesotans.

Included in the bill is a new rate reimbursement system that will give our nursing homes a greater ability to recruit and retain care givers. Here is what homes in District 15A can expect to see in regards to their annual Medicaid and estimated private revenue for 2016:


  • Milaca – Elim Home: $907,424, an increase of 21%
  • Princeton – Elim Home: $1,631,455, an increase of 30%

  • Onamia – Mille Lacs Health System: $1,140,198, an increase of 33%

The bill also provides a one-time five percent cost of living adjustment for home and community based care workers.

Staying in Touch

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 or 651-296-6746.


Have a great weekend,