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Representative Matt Grossell: Legislative Update

We are now down to the final three weeks before the Legislature must adjourn. We've been hard at work and will keep working to make sure Minnesota is a great place for everyone to live, work, and raise a family. God bless and have a great week!

Tax Conformity Bill Passes House

Today, Monday, April 30th, the House passed bipartisan tax legislation on a vote of 90- 38 that simplifies Minnesota’s tax code to fully benefit from federal tax reform and provide additional tax relief to middle-class Minnesotans. The legislation also delivers the first income tax rate cut for Minnesotans in nearly two decades by reducing the second tier income tax rate. Without these reforms, conforming to the federal tax code would cause 969,490 filers to pay more in taxes.

As a result of our proposal, more than 2.1 million Minnesota filers will benefit from a tax cut in tax year 2018. Highlights include:

• Helping middle-class Minnesotans keep more of what they earn by cutting the second tier income tax rate from 7.05% to 6.75% by tax year 2020. This would mark the first income tax rate reduction in Minnesota since 2000.

• Lowering taxes for people at all income levels by increasing the standard deduction for all filers.

• Protecting families by preserving a state personal and dependent exemption of $4,150.

• Encouraging affordable homeownership by allowing a state-itemized deduction of up to $30,000 in property taxes.

• Supporting hometown businesses and farmers by reinvesting extra revenue from corporate tax changes into Section 179 conformity and overall rate reductions.

This bill delivers the first income tax cut in nearly 20 years and helps simplify Minnesota's tax code. We are committed to getting a tax conformity bill done this year so Minnesotans won't face hassles and headaches when they file their taxes next April.

We now await action by the Senate.

Education Bill Prioritizes Student Safety

Last Thursday, the House passed bipartisan education legislation on a vote of 94-29 that puts students first. House File 4328 prioritizes school and student safety, increases transparency in school finance and performance reporting, and helps prepare kids for a bright and successful future.

Highlights in the education portion of the bill include:

• Championing a multifaceted approach to give school districts the resources and flexibility they need to address student safety and security. That includes expanding the use of long-term facilities maintenance revenue for facility security upgrades, strengthening the state’s commitment to school-linked mental health grants, supporting suicide prevention training for teachers, increasing funding for Safe Schools Revenue, and more

• Strengthening and clarifying state law to address teacher misconduct and teacher licensure including prohibiting sexual relationships between educators and students, even if that student is 18; requiring periodic teacher background checks, and prohibiting the issuance or renewal of a teacher/administrative license or bus driver endorsement for certain felonies or gross misdemeanors involving a minor

• Requiring the Minnesota Department of Education to create a School Report Card —a one-stop-spot for summative and easily accessible school and district ratings that will provide families with a place to research, compare and help determine which school will work best for their child

• Enhancing the transparency of school funding and our commitment to tackling our state’s achievement gap by doubling the number of school audits each year. These audits will discern whether or not education dollars allocated to school districts and dedicated to special education, English-learner and low-income students are reaching the students intended

• Ensuring students are exposed to a wide variety of post-secondary options including the trades and branches of the military

• Strengthening laws that protect kids from school lunch shaming

• Creating a Special Education Working Group to engage stakeholders and examine the factors that are driving rising costs

A number of higher education provisions are also included in the package. Highlights include measures to fund student loan debt counseling, bring new sexual harassment reporting requirements and policies to the University of Minnesota, and to back a textbook affordability initiative.

This is a good bill for Minnesota students. We now await action by the Senate.

State Government Finance Bill to Prioritize Veterans Homes

The House State Government Finance Committee has announced plans to fund three critically needed veterans homes across Minnesota. Using excess funds from the Vikings Stadium Reserve Account, the bill funds veterans homes in Bemidji, Preston, and Montevideo.

Providing this funding for the veterans home in Bemidji is long overdue and I am glad to see the hard work from everyone involved resulted in this being included in the House’s Budget proposal. The facility in Bemidji will fill a true hole in service and will serve veterans from 16 northern Minnesota counties, including four reservations. All of these veterans have earned and deserve the best care we can give them.


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