Tag Archives: Torrey Westrom

Speed Limits Go Up on Some Rural Highways

Dear Friends,

After several years of working to increase the speed limit on rural roads with my DFL and GOP colleagues, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MNDOT) has announced a speed limit increase on all of Highway 75, most of Highway 59, and part of Highway 7 to 60 mph. The speed limit will be effective once the signs are installed. You can read MNDOT’s press release on the increase here: http://tinyurl.com/mxnh3y2.

For a lot of people, this will be a welcomed change on these wide open state highways. I have been working with my legislative colleagues for several years to make these changes happen on major roads like this. Last session, I worked to pass legislation (Senate File 1210) that would have created a statewide speed limit increase from 55 mph to 60 mph. The proposal passed both the House and Senate in an omnibus bill, but was pulled out by a conference committee before it would have received its final passage. You can watch my Kare11 interview about increasing speed limits last session on rural roads here: http://tinyurl.com/m8y2w3w.

Over the years, citizens have provided me with input via town meetings, e-mails, and sidewalk conversations to raise the speed limit on state highways. Rural Minnesota families have lots of miles to travel – whether it is for jobs, shopping, or visiting friends and family. The new 5 mph increase seems to be reasonable. Some have even argued that it should be increased to 65 mph, but 60 mph is a good option to try for the motoring public. Furthermore, this speed limit closer aligns with the speed the average driver is already going on these roads.

No matter what the speed limit is drivers need to continue to practice safe and defensive driving. Safety comes first and starts with each individual driver!

I encourage and appreciate citizen input. I can be reached by telephone at (651) 296-3826 or (855) 407-7386, by e-mail at sen.torrey.westrom@senate.mn, or via mail at 107 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155.

Warm Regards,

Senator Torrey Westrom

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Minnesota One of the Worst Tax Climate States

Dear Friends:

The non-partisan Tax Foundation recently released the 2014 edition of the State Business Tax Climate Index which ranks Minnesota in the bottom ten states that suffer from “complex, non-neutral taxes with comparatively high rates.” Minnesota dropped from 45th to 47th place on their list. That is not the right direction. According to the report, Minnesota “enacted a package of tax changes that reduce the state’s competitiveness.” The new taxes include a new sales tax on personal vehicle repairs, farm equipment repairs, and a retroactive hike in the individual income tax rate. You can find the full report here: http://tinyurl.com/qg4j64d.

Governor Mark Dayton and the Democrats’ 2013 all tax budget can take most of the credit for this and will take more from hard working Minnesota families by implementing new taxes and failing to conform to some federal tax codes.

 Some examples of these new taxes include:

 Farmers Tax: Farmers and all consumers will be affected by the new sales taxes on warehousing and storage. Items such as propane, fertilizer, groceries, etc… may be affected by this tax.

Small Business Tax: This tax imposes new “Business to Business” sales taxes of $314 million over FY 2014-15 through a sales tax expansion including warehousing and storage, electronic and precision equipment repair, and commercial and industrial machinery and equipment repair.

 Tax on Rural Broadband and Cellular Services: Cable, telephone, and cellular companies must now add a sales tax on routers, switches, amplifiers, and digital processors that they purchase. Former DFL Speaker of the House Margaret Anderson Kelliher has even expressed concerns over these new taxes. There “will be slower adoption of high-speed Internet in outstate Minnesota,” stated Kelliher and that this new tax is a “step backward.”

Motorist (Wheelage) Tax: Under current law, metropolitan counties can collect $5 on every vehicle, per year. Under a new law passed last session, counties are allowed to collect $10 from 2014-2016 and up to $20 thereafter on every vehicle your family owns.

Adoption Tax Credit: On your federal taxes, families adopting a child may exclude up to $12,970 in employer-provided adoption benefits. On your state taxes, there is no longer a credit for adopting a child. Your family will now pay more when going through the adoption process.

Marriage Penalty: As estimated, 650,000 Minnesota families will pay on average $120 more per year in taxes after the Democrats defeated a Republican amendment to fix this problem. Marriage penalties occur when a family filing jointly would enter a higher bracket than if they had filed separately.

We know that higher taxes don’t lead to a healthier economy. Regular session starts again in February and the bottom line is that before we take another dime from hardworking Minnesota families, we should go line-by-line through the budget and cut the wasteful spending. These taxes are increasing costs for hardworking taxpayers while padding the coffers of the state to spend tax dollars on wasteful and ineffective programs. A better way to a strong, healthy Minnesota economy is to promote economic growth, and defund and remove wasteful government.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or comments. I can be reached by telephone at (651) 296-3826 or (855) 407-7386, by e-mail at sen.torrey.westrom@senate.mn, or via mail at 107 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155.

Sincerely,

Senator Torrey Westrom

District 12
107 State Office Building
St. Paul, MN 55155
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