Monthly Archives: January 2015

Rep. Mary Franson (08B) – Legislative Update

Dear Neighbors,

It was an exciting first full week of session at the Capitol as committees kicked into high gear. I am excited to share with you some of the things that took place at the Capitol this week.

Federal Tax Conformity Bill

The House passed its first bill on Thursday of this week. HF 6 conforms Minnesota’s tax code to some of the federal changes that have taken place since 2013 as they pertain to taxes filed for 2014. When all is said and done, this bill provides $19.9 million in immediate tax relief to Minnesotans for the 2014 tax year. Included in the bill is a higher education tuition deduction, an educator classroom expenses deduction, and a mortgage insurance premiums deduction. Hard working Minnesotans pay enough taxes as it is. That’s why I’m glad that the first bill that the new House Republican Majority passed leaves more money in taxpayers’ pockets.

Tax filing season begins January 20th. Please make sure to contact your local tax accountant for any information you may need when filing your taxes this year.

Committees Begin

Committees began in earnest this week and I am excited to begin working on the problems that matter most to Minnesotans. I am honored to be serving on four committees this session. However, I am most looking forward to my work on the Agriculture Policy Committee where I am serving as vice-chair. Our work in this committee will focus on easing the burden on Minnesota’s farmers in an effort to help our agriculture industry continue to flourish and grow. The agriculture industry is the largest economic driver in Greater Minnesota and a vital component to our way of life. I am committed to refocusing state government’s priorities on Greater Minnesota and Minnesota’s farmers because when all of Minnesota does well, not just the Twin Cities, we all do well.

Staying in Touch

As always, please feel free to contact me via e-mail at Rep.Mary.Franson@House.MN or contact my office at 651-296-3201. You can also send mail to my office address: 517 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155.

Sincerely,

Mary

Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen Weekly Update 1-15-15

January 15, 2015

Friends and Neighbors,

It has been a very face paced week here at your state capitol. The full Finance met for the first time this session as we discussed the destination medical center in Rochester, as well as disaster relief. Many constituents and organizations were in this week to my office. I am currently working on bills regarding the DNR and MPCA. Please continue to read below about other issues that have come up this week.

Tax cuts at the top of the agenda

Senate File 50 is a bill that would put Minnesota’s tax laws back in line with federal laws and allow Minnesotans to take full advantage of IRS deductions is making its way through the legislative process quickly. This bill, which was offered by republicans last year and rejected, has the opportunity to be passed as early as next week. I hope my support of federal tax conformity laws will help you to better plan and avoid the hassle of last-minute filing.

Tax savings measures in the bill will include:

· Educators may deduct up to $250 in expenses for classroom supplies.

· Homeowners may deduct mortgage insurance premiums.

· Students and parents may deduct up to $4,000 in tuition and related higher education expenses.

· Parents of disabled children may create new tax-free savings accounts to pay for certain expenses.

· Seniors 70+ may deduct up to $100,000 in charitable contributions made from IRA accounts.

· Businesses may deduct expenses relating to hiring veterans, research, charitable donations, equipment depreciation, and more.

Common sense budget reform refocuses on priorities

I Co-Authored a new bill which is referred to as Zero-Base budgeting that proposes substantial reforms to the way the Minnesota budget is developed. The current practice of using last year’s budget as a starting point often leads to increased spending on programs that are wasteful and inefficient, and creates a false urgency to raise taxes. If passed, this law will require the state budget to be reset to zero every two years, allowing lawmakers to start with a fresh slate and rebuild the budget according to current revenue projections and spending priorities.

The term “zero based budgeting” has been used to describe this common sense reform. Supporters of this process believe that lawmakers should review state programs on a regular basis to establish their effectiveness before continuing funding.

I believe the legislature should look at the fine example the average middle-class Minnesota family provides. They are the ones who sit down at the kitchen table to develop their budget. They know that we aren’t able to get everything we want and we need to live within our means. Likewise, hardworking taxpayers would be better served if lawmakers built the Minnesota budget every two years based on our priorities today and in the future.

Thanks again for taking the time to read my weekly update. One emerging issue is the gridlock between Governor Dayton and the Senate DFL over the office space in the Capitol. This argument, in my opinion, should not delay the construction that the state has invested millions of dollars in. Please keep an eye on this developing issue. As always feel free to contact me at my office at any time with your legislative concerns at 651-297-8063 or at Sen.Bill.Ingebrigtsen@senate.mn.

Thanks,

Bill

Torrey Westrom Back at the Capital

Dear Friends,

Welcome back to another full and meaningful year. I am excited to begin the new 2015 legislative session and am honor and privileged to continue representing the citizens of Big Stone, Douglas, Grant, Pope, Stearns, Stevens, Traverse, and Wilkin Counties.

The Minnesota Legislature reconvened in St. Paul on Tuesday, January 6, 2015, to begin the 2015 legislative session. This year saw a change in the power structure with the House of Representatives being controlled again by the Republicans. Governor Dayton won his re-election and the Senate remained the same, as they were not up for election last fall. This year will likely see more bold reforms and innovative policies. Hot agenda items likely to be addressed this session will be budget agreement, transportation funding, and tax reforms to provide some relief to hardworking taxpayers.

Tax reform and relief has long been a goal of Republicans. With the past two years of tax increases, Minnesota families deserve some relief. A good starting point would be to conform to the federal tax code and give tax relief in the same areas the IRS allows families to deduct or exempt.

Other issues that will require attention include funding and the way we manage our schools and our health care system. Also, finding ways to improve efficiency to stretch our transportation dollars. Stop the pursuit of more and more light rail trains in the metro area that are very expensive methods of public transit. The focus needs to be on investing in our roads and bridges.

I look forward to continue serving as a member on the Finance committee, the Transportation and Public Safety Committee and the Environment, Economic Development and Agriculture Division Committee.

As always, I welcome constituents to come visit me or call me toll free at my St. Paul office at (855) 407-7386 or (651)-296-3826, by email at sen.torrey.westrom@senate.mn, or by mail at 107 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155.

Finally, the Minnesota State Capitol is currently undergoing a $270 million historic renovation project that has two-thirds of the building blocked off. Sadly, the Capitol is closed to weekday school and group tours this session. We still welcome visitors, but those who come should be prepared to maneuver all the construction zones and to witness the historic renovation that is going on.

Warmest Regards,

Torrey Westrom

Minnesota State Senator

Senate District 12

LEGISLATURE RECONVENES FOR 2015 SESSION

Hot agenda items likely to include budget agreement, transportation funding

St. Paul – The Minnesota Legislature reconvened in St. Paul today to begin the 2015 legislative session.

“I am excited to begin the new session with a fair and balanced legislature,” said Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen. “It’s an honor and a privilege to once again represent the citizens of Douglas and Otter Tail Counties.

“Over the last two years we saw the harm caused by Governor Dayton and DFL majorities. This year we now have a Republican Majority in the MN House. This will undoubtedly give a stronger voice to Greater Minnesota. With this new Republican Majority we now we have an opportunity to reform our tax laws to provide some relief to hardworking taxpayers. Tax reform has long been a goal of Republicans, and truthfully, Minnesota families deserve this relief.

“Republicans have a simple vision,” Senator Ingebrigtsen continued. “We need to improve the roads in this state as well as making long-term care, healthcare and taxes more affordable. We can address our challenges and make Minnesota a more welcoming environment for families and business if Senate Democrats and Governor Dayton are willing to work with Republicans to support new, innovative ideas.”

Senator Ingebrigtsen will continue to serve as the Republican lead on the Environment, Economic Development, and Agriculture committee. In addition, he will serve as an Assistant Minority Leader, and will have assignments on the Finance, Capital Investment, AND Legacy committees.

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Senator Ingebrigtsen welcomes constituents to contact his Capitol office at 143 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155, by phone at 651-297-8063, or by email at Sen.Bill.Ingebrigtsen@Senate.mn.