April 30, 2021


Dear Neighbor,

    We are entering the final weeks of the legislative session. This week, the Senate passed the final omnibus bills, and continued appointing conference committee members. As final budget discussions move forward, I'd encourage you to keep in touch if you have any questions. The legislature is required to adjourn by May 17th, and there is a lot of work to be done before then.

Tax Bill Doesn't Meet Minnesotans' Needs

    The Senate passed a sparse tax bill this week that does little to meet the needs of Minnesotans recovering from the pandemic. In addition, because Republicans refused to even discuss raising new revenue to help fund future growth, the vast needs in education, housing, health care, broadband, and transportation are not addressed in any of the Republican budget bills passed during the past two weeks.

     Of the total investments in the bill, $600 million was directed at businesses while just $54 million would have benefitted individual Minnesotans. Senate DFLers offered several amendments to raise enough new revenue to support the priorities that will help all Minnesotans recover from the pandemic and build a stronger future.

     Full tax relief for unemployed Minnesotans was one of the most glaring omissions in the Republican bill. The federal government has allowed $10,200 in unemployment benefits received last year to be excluded from taxes to help those still recovering from employment changes. The Senate tax bill only provided an 18% subtraction. Senate DFLers offered an amendment to institute a temporary surcharge on net investment earnings over $250,000, affecting just 34,000 of Minnesotans doing the to help more than 550,000 of Minnesotans hit hardest. The amendment was rejected.

     Several other amendments using a similar funding source also were rejected by Republicans. The original bill included $100 million in property tax breaks for business properties; Senate DFLers attempted to increase homeowner and renter property tax refunds to provide some parity. That same amendment would have conformed to federal tax changes that help Minnesotans paying off student loans or paying for childcare. Again, the amendment was rejected.

     An amendment offering a tax reduction for the more than one million taxpayers in the first and second tax brackets also was rejected, as was an amendment providing an increase in the Working Family Credit for more than 350,000 low- and moderate-income working Minnesotans. Even an amendment providing a full Social Security benefit tax subtraction was voted down.

     Republicans consistently said they agreed with many of the ideas offered by the DFL, but they simply did not have enough revenue to pay for those priorities. DFLers offered a responsible method to pay for the needs that past year has so clearly highlighted, so it was not a matter of having the revenue, it was a conversation about who is willing to do the work necessary to make sure those needs are met.

Bloomington Elementary Schools Art Show

     I have enjoyed visiting the Bloomington Center for the Arts in person other years to see the art exhibit displaying art from Bloomington elementary schools. It’s nice to have a chance to view the art online this year. The organizers for the 2021 exhibit state: “In this year’s virtual exhibition 55 student artists were hand selected by their art specialists at Eleven Bloomington public elementary schools. While we’re unable to exhibit the young artists’ artwork in-person this year, we still celebrate their creativity and artistic expressions in this colorful and fun virtual exhibition video.”

RentHelpMN Launches

    COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance is now live for renters who owe back rent. Assistance is also available for past-due utilities. Renters looking to see if they qualify should examine this document. Additionally, there is a landlord checklist for any landlords who have renters behind on their rent.

Help for homeowners is also on the way; to sign up for updates regarding the availability of mortgage assistance please click here.

If you have questions, feel free to call 211. Trained operators are available to answer any of your questions

Comments on Health and Human Services Bill

     After several hours of debate, the Senate passed the Omnibus Health and Human Services budget bill. I pointed out several areas where I felt the bill fell short, but as the Ranking DFLer on the Health and Human Services Finance and Policy Committee, I am committed to working to improve the bill.

     With no additional general fund money dedicated to health and human services in their budget target, Senate Republicans are making it clear they won’t invest in sustainable resources Minnesotans need, like health care, homelessness supports, and affordable prescription drugs. Their bills are propped up by risky and unnecessary budgeting strategies that will undoubtedly create budget shortfalls in future sessions. In contrast, the House has over $300 million more dedicated towards HHS spending.

     This bill continues an expensive reinsurance program without offering a vision for what the future of health care in our state might look like. There is money for an unclear drug reimportation program but no reforms that address the sky-high cost of prescription drugs. It also ignores needed funding for our state agencies, who have worked overtime during this pandemic to keep people safe.


    This will likely be my final Email Update before the end of the 2021 regular legislative session. I look forward to having opportunities to connect with folks after the session ends, but you can always contact me at the email and phone number below. I hope you’ll continue to keep in touch if you have any questions or concerns you’d like to share!