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In Blaine, Centerville, Circle Pines, Hugo,
Lexington, and Lino Lakes
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July 14, 2016

Dear Neighbor,

It is an honor and privilege to represent our community at the Capitol. I appreciate the opportunity to advocate for your interests in St. Paul and wanted to share with you an update on this year's legislative session.

Following last year's accomplishments including historic investments in education, historic reforms for our nursing homes and passing a responsibly-sized state budget, this year, legislators returned to St. Paul looking to pass legislation on a number of additional priorities. Taxes, transportation, bonding and education initiatives were among the bills that passed the House this year. Below are some of the highlights of the 2016 session.

Tax Relief

House Republicans advocated strongly for meaningful tax relief this year. With a $900 million budget surplus funded by taxpayers, it is appropriate that significant tax relief be provided.

One of the largest tax relief initiatives signed into law this year is a historic tax cut for more than 18,000 Minnesota veterans. For the men and women who have bravely served our nation, their military retirement benefits will now be exempt from state income tax. This tax change is long overdue, and I am pleased it was signed into law.

House Republicans and Senate Democrats also came to an agreement on a comprehensive tax bill this year that provided more than $800 million in tax relief for working families, college graduates, veterans, farmers and small businesses. Unfortunately, Governor Dayton chose to unnecessarily veto the overwhelmingly bipartisan legislation over a one-word error that could have easily been fixed administratively. House Republicans have called on the governor to call a Special Session to repass the tax bill, as well as the bipartisan transportation bonding legislation passed by the House.

Transportation and Bonding

Transportation was another top priority this session, and House Republicans advocated for a long-term funding plan that invested in our road and bridge infrastructure without a gas tax increase or metro area sales tax increase. The second year of a biennium is also typically considered a bonding year where the state borrows money for key infrastructure projects across the state, so bonding was another priority.

As part of a final agreement between the House and Senate, bonding and transportation were combined into one bill, with a number of important transportation projects funded across the state - a down payment on a long-term plan to fix our roads and bridges. Additionally, there was also money for water infrastructure, asset preservation and a number of other key projects across the state included in the legislation.

The bill passed with strong bipartisan support in the House and unfortunately, in the last minutes of session, a handful of Democrat Senators tried to amend funding for the controversial Southwest Light Rail project onto the bill, effectively killing the legislation. Along with the tax bill, House Republican leaders have asked that a Special Session also include the repassage of this bipartisan transportation bonding bill as well.

Supplemental Budget Bill

Part of this year's ongoing negotiations included a supplemental budget bill that was signed into law by Governor Dayton. House Republicans helped limit state spending increases last session and passed a budget with one of the lowest percent spending increases in half a century.

For Minnesota schools, students and educators, there were a number of provisions to address our state's growing teacher shortage, improve staff safety, and build on successful programs aimed at closing the achievement gap.

To help rein in MNsure and protect Minnesotans, the supplemental bill also eliminated estate recovery claims retroactively for those aged 55 to 64 on Medical Assistance who are not in a long-term care facility. What's more, there are provisions to expand Safe Harbor services for vulnerable and exploited youth and a 15 percent rate reimbursement increase for foster care and adoption assistance.

Finally, for underserved parts of our state who need better access to broadband, there is $35 million for broadband grants, and when combined with federal money, will help bring in well over $100 million toward broadband expansion in Minnesota in the next year alone.

You can call my office any time at 651-296-2907 or email me at rep.linda.runbeck@house.mn. My mailing address is 417 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. MLK Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155.

If you wish to receive periodic email updates on legislative and community issues, please call my office or sign up online at www.house.mn/38a. Thank you again for the honor and privilege of serving as your state representative. Have a great summer!

Sincerely,



Rep. Linda Runbeck

 

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