Gov. Dayton's State of the State speech is set for Wednesday night at 7pm, and I have a ticket for a guest to sit with me on the House floor. If attending the State of the State is of interest to you, enter the free drawing below to win the ticket.
While most of our time at the Capitol is being spent on budget issues right now, there are also a number of other topics getting attention in various committees as well.
BUDGET UNDER THE MICROSCOPE. The governor's proposed budget for 2013-2014 is facing serious scrutiny in a number of finance committees. So far, most of the attention has been on the revenue side of the budget, where the governor proposed a significant expansion of the sales tax to services and an income tax hike for the top 2% of income earners. Even Gov. Dayton's tax cuts, including a $500 property tax refund for homeowners and an overall reduction in the sales tax rate to 5.5%, are being closely examined. Next week, attention will start to focus on spending, including about $1 billion in new spending in the education area at all levels, from early childhood education programs to K-12 to a tuition freeze at the U of M.
WHAT BRINGS IN THE MOST? Applying the sales tax to legal, computer, architectural and engineering, and advertising services would bring in the most money under the governor's proposal. Taxing telecom equipment, haircuts, snow plowing and golf and tennis lessons would yield much smaller sums. For a list and amounts, check out http://www.startribune.com/politics/blogs/189294551.html
MAYO CLINIC JAW-DROPPER. If my small law firm in South St. Paul proposed a $6 billion expansion and asked the State to fund $500 million of it, legislators would laugh. When the world-renowned Mayo Clinic proposed it on January 30th, no one laughed. It is immediately a very serious proposal that has gotten legislators' attention.
GUNS. Possible changes to Minnesota's gun laws will be the subject of hearings that start on Tuesday, February 5th. Bans on certain weapons and ammo, arming teachers and school staff, more thorough background checks, and greater funding for mental illness treatment are just some of the ideas being floated.
SHOULD A CARELESS DRIVER WHO HITS A MAILBOX FACE THE SAME PENALTY AS A DRIVER WHO KILLS SOMEONE? If you think a careless driver who kills someone should face a stiffer penalty than a driver who runs over a mailbox, you are about to be shocked. In Minnesota, the penalty for either offense is exactly the same - a misdemeanor. I'm working with Dakota County Attorney Jim Backstrom on bipartisan legislation to change that. The legislation also provides greater protection to police officers, EMT's and others who are vulnerable on our roadways. The legislation was introduced yesterday.
STATE OF THE STATE TICKET DRAWING. Gov. Dayton gives his 2013 State of the State speech on the House floor on Wednesday, 2/6, at 7:00pm, and I have a ticket for a guest to join me on the House floor. To enter the free drawing to win the ticket, just send me an email at Rep.Joe.Atkins@house.mn. Or you can enter at www.facebook.com/State.Rep.Joe.Atkins.
Questions or comments about the topics above or any other legislative issuesare welcome. Please post below, give me a call at 651-296-4192, or email me at Rep.Joe.Atkins@house.mn. Thank you.