Dear Friends and Neighbors, 

There is one month left in this Legislative Session. Typically, conference committees are meeting and we are hearing a lot of bills on the floor. This year is different.  We owe it to Minnesotans to pass bills that address the opioid epidemic, distracted driving, and repair our state’s aging infrastructure. We also need prevent unintended tax hikes for working people due to the Federal Tax Bill. We must adjourn on May 21st, so time is running out. Last week I recorded a video on this issue, unfortunately there has been no movement. 

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At the Capitol

Moms Demand Action

Hundreds of Minnesota Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America volunteers visited the Capitol this week to meet with lawmakers and hold a rally in the rotunda. Dressed in bright red shirts, Moms Demand Action volunteers are working with law makers, companies, and educational institutions to establish common-sense gun reforms to reduce gun violence.

DFL senators have introduced numerous gun safety proposals, including the Senate’s first and only comprehensive plan to address gun violence – it focuses on schools, research, and gun safety. Senate Republicans refuse to hold public hearings about gun violence, shutting Minnesotans out of an important conversation about the safety of our children and families.

Second Harvest 

Several of you have written supporting the Second Harvest Heartland Bonding request.  They are Minnesota's largest hunger relief organization.  They held a press conference this week to highlight the need for $18 million in bonding for their distribution center in Brooklyn Park. Four-time James Beard Award-winning TV personality and chef, Andrew Zimmern, was on hand to advocate for the bonding project. Second Harvest Heartland’s current distribution facility is at maximum capacity and does not have the space to meet the demands of their food shelf and meal programs to feed hungry Minnesotans. 

The request will allow Second Harvest to feed more hungry Minnesotans across the state by adding a facility in Brooklyn Park.

The Bonding requests from communities across the State, including the City of Minneapolis, the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board, Hennepin County and the University of MN, total more than $4 Billion Dollars.  

The Governor's proposal for $1.5 Billion Dollars does not include any local projects but does include requests from the University of MN and the Stone Arch Bridge.  We need to include some local projects in the bonding bill.  If the Republicans do not want to go above a certain number for the bonding bill, we could possibly do a second bill dealing with maintenance and preservation of certain state buildings or public college buildings.  We need to deal with this - deferred maintenance issues and costs will not magically go away.  


In Committee

Tax Committee

This week we heard Governor Dayton’s Policy, Technical Corrections, and Conformity Bills.  His conformity bill makes necessary adjustments to avoid negative impacts of the federal bill and retains important tax benefits Minnesotans currently enjoy.  

Key points to the Governor's Tax Bill Proposal include

  • Moving the starting point to determine Minnesota Taxable Income from Federal Taxable Income to Federally Adjusted Gross Income;
  • Creating new personal & dependent credit that would cut taxes for over 1.9 million Minnesotans; 
  • Preserve Property tax deduction. 

The most important piece of the Governor’s plan is that, if passed, it avoids a $60 million tax increase on 300,000 Minnesotans next year. It is critical that Republican leaders move on from distorting numbers and work on submitting their own tax proposals as soon as possible so the legislature can spend the remaining 30 days having a real debate about potential solutions.

Agriculture and Housing Committee:

Minnesota farmers are facing low commodity prices and possibly tariffs.  Despite a $325 million surplus, the Agriculture, Rural Development and Housing Finance Committee was not given any additional resources to fund important initiatives in rural Minnesota across the state. Instead, the committee was forced to make cuts within the Department of Agriculture to make important investments in programs like mental health services for farmers and farm related businesses.

The most significant policy change within the proposal would limit the Department of Agriculture’s ability to implement a rule regulating the application of nitrate fertilizers. While the rule is concerning for some in the agriculture industry, Governor Dayton appears to be steadfast in his support for the rule. As a result, any bill with this provision in it risks being vetoed.

We heard several proposals to help provide more affordable housing options for homeless families and individuals dealing with mental health issues but the bill did not provide any new money to address housing issues.  The bill did make some changes to tax exempt bond financing for housing projects recommended by several housing advocacy groups.


Edison High School and De LaSalle students participating in the student walk out for
gun violence

 Judiciary and Public Safety Committee:

Children involved in court cases will have to proceed without the representation of a Guardian ad Litem, forensic scientists will continue to be overworked, and the safety needs of county courthouses will go unmet if the supplemental judiciary finance omnibus bill introduced by Senate Republicans becomes law. The bill was heard in the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee this week and passed on a party line vote.

The committee heard the Governor’s recommendations for corrections, the courts, and public safety earlier in the week. The Governor recommended $1 million to supplement a widely popular grant program for counties to make safety and security improvements to their courthouses. Funding was only available for 1/3 of grant requests in the first funding cycle. There is no funding for the program in the supplemental proposal.

An evaluation by the Office of the Legislative Auditor found the Minnesota Guardian ad Litem Board, which oversees the activities of attorneys who represent the best interests of children in certain cases, was not meeting its state or federal obligations to protect children. In order to ensure all children who are entitled to representation receive it, the Governor recommended 45 new Guardians ad Litem be hired at a cost of $4 million annually. The supplemental proposal includes no funding for the program.

The Minnesota Constitution requires that offenders in its state prisons receive health care, and the Governor recommended ongoing funding to meet that mandate. The omnibus bill includes funding for offender health care, but cuts off funding starting in 2024. The Governor’s other corrections funding recommendations, including increased safety measures, and providing opioid addiction treatment to offenders, were not included in the Omnibus bill.   

Senator Latz offered an amendment to close the background check loophole. I supported the amendment, but it failed on a party line vote. He also offered an amendment to create gun violence protective orders, or red flag orders. This amendment was similar to what passed in Florida recently. Unfortunately, this amendment also failed on a party line vote. The Committee discussed these issues for a little more than an hour.  This issue deserves a conversation, with testimony, at a minimum, but unfortunately that has not happened. 

Constituent Visits 

Thanks to everyone who visited the Capitol to advocate for many good causes.  I appreciate hearing your thoughts and concerns.