State Legislator's Comments

State Legislators Comments

 
Jay McNamar
Jay McNamra (Rep)
State House District 12A 
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. 
State Office Building, Room 105 St. Paul, MN 55155-1206 651.296.3826 
Email Address: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

paul anderson 150

Paul Anderson (Rep)
State House District 12B
239 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155
651-296-4317
E-mail:
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
 
Check out my Website:
www.paulandersonmn.com

 

12Westrom 150 185
 
 
Tory Westrom (Rep)
State Senate District 12
State Office Bldg., Room 107
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd
St. Paul, MN 55155-1206
(651) 296-3826
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
     
     

Notes From The Capital

Monday, June 22, 2015

paul anderson 150With the passage of financial bills during the recent special session of the Legislature, the next two-year budget for the state of Minnesota has been completed.  Spending has been increased, although the percentage of that increase is one of the smallest in recent years.  Over-all, we will spend 5.3 percent more than in the current biennium ending June 30, with the largest increase being in the area of K-12 education.

Spending in the area of agriculture, while not a large portion of the state budget, saw a sizeable increase.  One of the reasons for that was additional funding earmarked for the fight against Avian Influenza.  State agencies will receive an additional $6.5 million for their work in this area.  Those agencies include the departments of Agriculture, Health, and Public Safety, along with the Board of Animal Health and the DNR.  In addition, $10 million was allocated to the Rural Finance Authority to make no-interest loans to producers affected by the disease.  Another $26 million was allocated to the University of Minnesota in the bonding bill to improve the poultry testing lab in Willmar and the veterinary isolation facility on the University campus in St. Paul.

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Notes From The Capital

Monday, June 15, 2015

Although it had some anxious moments, the special session of the legislature came to an end early this past Saturday morning, and after the governor signed the bills, Minnesota’s upcoming two-year budget is finally complete.  Our make-shift chamber in a State Office Building committee room made for some tight quarters, with House members, staff, media, and visitors all cramped together, but things went relatively smoothly and the necessary business got done.  In all, six bills were passed, including the massive K-12 education bill that spends $17 billion over the next two years.

The main change in that bill from the one vetoed earlier by Gov. Dayton is the addition of $125 million in new funding.  The basic funding formula was raised by another one-half percent, which accounts for about half of the increase.  Schools will now receive increases in that formula of two percent in each year of the biennium.  Pre-school education was also addressed, although not in the fashion proposed by the governor.  He had made pre-K or four-year old school programs one of his top priorities.  However, that was dropped in favor of early learning scholarships and an increase in a program known as “school readiness.”  Head Start also received more funding, as did Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE).

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Notes From The Capital

Comments from Paul Anderson State Representative Dist 12B
paul anderson 150June 1, 2015
The topic of buffer strips has been off and on for most of the recently completed legislative session.  Brought up by Gov. Dayton at a pheasant summit in Marshall early this year, the thought of mandatory 50-foot vegetative strips along waterways has caused sharp disagreement among those who would be affected.  It was first sold as a “one size fits all” proposal, which quickly raised the ire of many involved in production agriculture.

The governor’s plan was heard in the Environment Committee with no vote taken.  It was held over and not sent on to any other committees.  So, even though it greatly affected farmers, it didn’t receive a hearing in either my ag policy committee or the finance committee.  Most rural legislators were against the plan, with reasons almost too numerous to mention.  One size doesn’t fit all situations, questions about compensation for land owners, and the mandating of a particular use on private property were among the main concerns raised.

It looked as if the buffer bill was dead, but the suspicion remained that if this was something the governor really wanted, he would get it in some form or other.  And that’s basically what has happened, with a much scaled-back version in the final environment bill passed out of both the House and Senate.  The 50-foot mandate is gone, except on public waters, which is already current law.  Also gone is any mention of DNR enforcement, one of the key provisions demanded by those of us who represent rural interests.

The main provision of the new language is the requirement of 16.5 foot (one rod) buffers on all public ditches.  Current law says these ditches, also called county ditches or judicial ditches, must be buffered after they have undergone a legal process known as “re-determination.”  With this new language, these ditches will now need buffers by late 2018 with or without having gone through a re-determination.

A big focus has been on local control of this process.  Additional state funding will go to county Soil and Water Conservation Districts to assist farmers in planning and implementing buffers.  The counties will also have enforcement powers with the ability to levy fines up to $500 for non-compliance.  It will also be up to local SWCDs to determine if private ditches should be buffered.  They will also have the ability to allow farmers to implement “alternative practices” that would accomplish much the same thing as buffers.

I write this as if these new provisions have already become law.  They haven’t.  This language was part of the larger environment/ag bill that Gov. Dayton vetoed.  However, he has said he approves of the buffer language and it will, in all likelihood, be part of the bill sent to him during the upcoming special session.  Speaking of that, we haven’t received word yet on when it will be.  We have been told it will be held in the State Office Building, in two of the larger committee rooms.

In all, the governor vetoed three spending bills.  In addition to the environment/ag bill, he also rejected the K-12 education bill and the one pertaining to jobs and energy.  It’s thought agreement must be reached on all three bills before we are called back. 

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Notes From The Capital

From Paul Anderson - State House Representive 12B
Monday, April 27, 2015

paul anderson 150Action has switched from daily committee meeting to long floor sessions in the Minnesota House as we debate and pass the major omnibus spending bills that will provide the funding to operate state budgets for the next two years beginning July 1.  In all, there are ten spending bills that need approval, and we worked through half of them in the past week.  The others, including House Republicans’ nearly $2 billion tax cut bill, will be up for debate this week.

One of the spending bills passed last week was the transportation bill, which will now go to a conference committee with the Senate.  Included in House plan is a $25 million appropriation for cities under 5,000 population that will assist them with their local transportation needs.  In total, it raises $7 billion over the next ten years without any additional gas taxes.  Currently, both the Senate and Gov. Dayton have a different plan in that they are proposing a sales tax increase on fuel, which would go up or down annually, based on the wholesale price of gas. Sixteen cents per gallon would be the minimum increase under their plan, with additional hikes as the price of fuel goes up.

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Notes From The Capital

paul anderson 150Some Minnesotans who received a subsidy last year to help cover the cost of their health insurance may be in for a surprise when they file their tax return for 2014. At least one constituent reported to me that they must pay several hundred dollars of additional tax to cover the subsidy they received from the federal government to defray the cost of insurance.  To be fair, this is not a problem brought on by the troubled MnSure exchange in Minnesota.  It has to do with incomes that turned out to be under-estimated, which resulted in subsidies received that were too large.

Back when folks signed up for health coverage and the associated subsidies for last year, 2013 incomes were used to determine the level of subsidy.  However, if the actual income for 2014 increased by a certain level, it changed or eliminated the subsidy amount people were entitled to receive.  That’s the reason why some will have to pay income tax on that subsidy, although they had no idea this might happen.  And even if they knew, it would have been very difficult, if not impossible, to get back into the MnSure system to make a change in income, which would have also resulted in a lower subsidy and higher health insurance premiums.

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