Thursday, September 21, 2017

News

Greetings from the Capitol!

We are wrapping up business at the Capitol and heading into the final week. The 2013 session is scheduled to end May 20, but the House and Senate majorities have yet to produce a final budget.

Democratic leadership in the Minnesota House and Senate met with Governor Dayton this week in hopes of breaking the state budget log-jam. Both legislative bodies have approved budget bills that will dramatically increase state spending and taxes over the next two years, but have been unable to agree on a final budget target number.

In the meantime, we continue to work on a variety of policy bills including ones dealing with energy and our local schools.

 

ENERGY BILL WILL RAISE COSTS

A bill House Democrats passed this week dealt with energy policies across the state.  This bill includes numerous mandates which would increase energy bills for almost all hardworking Minnesota homeowners and apartment dwellers. The bill requires a 40-percent renewable energy standard by 2030 for investor-owned utility companies. This includes a 4-percent solar mandate, with a goal of 10-percent. Owners of solar devices would receive large subsidies at the expense of rate-payers across the state. This means even low-income citizens would be paying more in order to pay for this expensive technology for other people.

This bill is bad for the hardworking taxpayers of Minnesota. It is loaded with excessive, costly mandates based more on unproven technology than results and sound logic. Solar power is unreliable and can’t compete without subsidies. Republicans offered a number of amendments to make improvements in these areas, unfortunately none of them were accepted. A top concern is this bill picks winners and losers by shielding companies on the Iron Range from experiencing rate hikes caused by solar mandates while imposing them on the rest of the state. My question is, if this bill is bad for people and businesses on the iron range, isn't it bad for everyone across the state? 

GOVERNMENT OVERREACH IN OUR SCHOOLS

This week we also discussed at length a bill that attempt to deal with bullying in our schools. House Democrats passed this bill which requires schools to enforce very specific anti-bullying policies. A state-run School Climate Center would oversee compliance. This unfunded mandate is projected to cost our schools up to $50 million per biennium statewide.

The local school district has expressed opposition to this as they already have taken measures to address bullying and believe it is best addressed at the local level. A quasi statewide school board would make decisions that should be left up to parents and local officials who know what is right for them. We in the minority offered a number of amendments to increase transparency and foster parental involvement, but these proposals were not accepted.  These amendments would have allowed mandatory parent notification if a student was involved in bullying or was a victim of bullying, if the school was providing resources to students for outside community groups and to ensure that resources provided to students was age-appropriate.  As a parent, I was very disappointed that such provisions were not included in the bill.  Instead, the bill empowered administrators over parents. I believe that our local schools have and will continue to address the issue of bullying as needed with local parent involvement and resources and did not support this statewide unfunded mandate.

REDEFINITION OF MARRIAGE

As many of you have probably heard, this week the proposal to re-define marriage passed the House of Representatives and now heads to the Senate for a vote on Monday. I have heard from hundreds of you on this issue on both sides and appreciate all of the input on this sensitive and controversial issue. 

I will let you know what transpires next week as we head down the final stretch of the session. With 9 days to go I hope we start to see greater priority put on settling the budget bills and finishing the work that we were sent here to do. Until then, please continue providing me with input on the issues.

Have a good weekend!

Tara

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