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Legislative Update - April 23, 2014
Dear Neighbors and Friends,
We've returned from the Easter/Passover break to continue our work this session. Already the House has made progress on several priorities we were hoping to address. Just a couple months into session, we've already passed bills that will provide:
Expanding Broadband Internet Access
- $20 million in propane heating assistance
- $3.4 million to ensure that students get a healthy meal at lunchtime
- Over $440 million in tax cuts for families, businesses, and farmers
- Updated workplace regulations that help address pay disparities for female workers
- An increased minimum wage for workers with protections for small businesses and those who hired teenagers.
The House has also passed a supplemental budget that includes a $25 million investment in broadband development. A recent study by ConnectMN
, a nonprofit working in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, showed that 93 percent of Metro-area residents have access to high-speed broadband coverage as opposed to only 46 percent of households in Greater Minnesota.
While that limited access doesn't directly hurt the families and businesses in our area, it does impact our economy. If large portions of Minnesota's communities can't create new jobs, that will slow down the economic growth of the entire state economy. It's in our best interest to make sure schools, families, and businesses have the chance to succeed no matter where they are in Minnesota.Conference Committees Underway
This is the time when significant bills are being passed by both the House and the Senate on similar topics. When those bills don't match up perfectly, both chambers appoint members to serve on a conference committee that settles the differences. Some major issues that will be decided through the conference committee process include:
- 5 percent rate increase for long term care
workers (Both House and Senate agree)
- Increase in property tax refunds for small businesses (In the House bill)
- Increase in property tax refunds for homeowners (In the House bill)
- Increase in property tax refunds for renters (In the House bill)
As the differences between the House and Senate bills get hammered out, we will inch closer and closer to completing our work this session. The last major piece of work to accomplish will be our bonding bill. The Senate is expected to release their list of local infrastructure projects sometime this week, which will give us the chance to create a final list of projects to send to the Governor to be signed into law.
Things are moving quickly in the House. We're excited to continue our progress and get done on time. If you have any questions or ideas about our work at the Legislature, please feel free to contact me by phone (651-296-3533) or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org