Thursday, September 21, 2017

News

Dear Friends,

We're just a few days away from the start of session, so I wanted to send along one last interim update on the community events I've been able to attend over the past couple of weeks, and give you a preview of issues I'll be working on this session.

Community Events:

Caucuses

Earlier this month, Minnesotans gathered for their respective precinct caucuses, the first step in the 2014 election process. I wanted to thank those of you who took time out of your busy lives to get involved--regardless of party--in your local caucus. The world belongs to those who show up, and I appreciate your commitment and dedication to the political process in shaping the future of your respective political party and the state as a whole.

AMSD Legislative Preview

On Friday, February 7th, I attended the Association of Metropolitan School Districts' (AMSD) 2014 Legislative Preview event. In attendance were a number of local school officials and other elected officials to hear from the AMSD about their legislative priorities for 2014. We also heard from Minnesota's Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius.

This was the first of several pre-session events I attended in the last few weeks. I also attended an Education Summit on February 6th put on by the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce where we heard from a number of speakers about education reform and ways we can tackle our state's unacceptable achievement gap. That weekend, I got the chance to attend a joint event on February 8th put on by the Minnesota Agricultural Education Leadership Council, the Minnesota Association of Agricultural Educators, and the Minnesota FFA for their legislative breakfast. There we heard about some of the unique issues facing Minnesota's agriculture industry, and the educators who work in the field of agricultural education. On Monday, Februray 10th, I attended the Legislative Institute on Child Development Research and Policy, where we heard from leading experts about child development and ways to increase learning and achievement for our youngest learners.

 

Rosemount State of the City

On Wednesday, February 12th, Rosemount Mayor Bill Droste gave his annual State of the City address. The mayor noted that the city is in good shape economically, and dedicated part of his speech to highlighting the incredibly strong sense of community in Rosemount. He commended the Rosemount High School Marching Band and their recent trip to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena as an example of one of the many things we have to be proud of in our community.

Boy Scout Meeting

Last week, on Thursday, February 13th, I attended the Rosemount Pack 295 meeting. It was a special night as the scouts celebrated the Boy Scouts of America's 104th birthday and received awards - including the Arrow of Light Award. It is great to see so many young people involved in Boy Scouts, and staying active in helping make their community a better place. I appreciated the warm reception and getting to talk with a number of the scouts and their parents.

Suburban Transit Association

On Tuesday, February 18th, I attended the Suburban Transit Association Legislative Breakfast where leaders discussed their priorities for the 2014 legislative session. Transportation is one of the core functions of government, and an issue that is sure to be a hot topic for the 2014 session. I hope to see roads and bridges prioritized for the bonding bill and other transportation discussions this session, and look forward to working with legislators on both sides of the aisle to determine how we can tackle the transit challenges facing our community and state as a whole.

Apple Valley Chamber Luncheon

On Wednesday, February 19, I attended the Apple Valley Chamber Luncheon, where we heard from Dr. Rich Wagner, the President of Dunwoody's College of Technology. Education was the main topic of conversation, and there was much discussion about the role of our education system in training our future workforce. A critical topic since I serve on the Education Finance and Education Policy Committees in the House.

2014 Legislative Session

As I mentioned, the 2014 session is right around the corner. The first day of session is this coming Tuesday, February 25th. I expect session to conclude sometime in early to mid-May, a considerably shorter session than in 2013.

One of the biggest priorities I hope to see addressed is the repeal of the business-to-business taxes that were passed last session. With a $1 billion surplus, there's no question that we need to alleviate some of the burdens placed on Minnesota families and businesses last session. There's broad bipartisan support for tax repeal, so I hope to see it tackled early on in session so we can put at least some of the surplus tax dollars back where it belongs. I have chief-authored a bill to repeal all of the business-to-business taxes last session, and am prepared to work with my colleagues to move this important issue forward.

Another tax-related issue likely to be addressed is the issue of federal conformity. Because Minnesota's tax code currently does not align with the federal tax code, Minnesota families are taxed on things like employer-provided tuition assistance, employer-provided adoption assistance, and more. I hope to see the legislature act with some urgency so we can eliminate these harmful tax provisions by passing federal conformity to make sure that families filing their taxes have time to amend their tax return or adjust it before submitting it in April.

My priorities for 2014 include continuing to fight for a veteran's hiring tax credit that would provide a credit to businesses who hire out-of-work veterans. As a member of the Education Finance and Education Policy committees, I will be focused on a number of education issues as well. I plan to oppose any effort to eliminate the Minnesota Teacher Licensure Exam, as has been proposed by members of the majority. I believe a more effective approach would be to better prepare teacher candidates to take this exam, and perhaps provide accommodations in unique situations. We need to continue to hold our teachers to a high standard, and I believe repealing the exam altogether would be a step backward for ensuring quality teachers in Minnesota classrooms.

I also hope to see efforts to help bring down the cost of special education, and other ways to help school districts save money. I have introduced a bill that would give District 196 lease levy flexibility that would help the District save about $500,000 on bus storage, and I hope other districts pursue similar creative cost-saving strategies to make sure your tax dollars are being spent as efficiently as possible for the education of our students.

I'm hoping for a productive session where both sides are able to work together to do what's best for Minnesota families. The focus should be on giving the surplus back to the hardworking Minnesota taxpayers, and doing what we can to make their lives easier, not more expensive. I'm concerned that there have already been discussions about possible tax increases. After record-setting spending and tax increases last session, I think Minnesotans' pocketbooks have been hit hard enough, and plan to oppose any tax increase that would negatively impact Minnesota families this session.

I spoke recently with the Rosemount Town Pages about the upcoming session. You can read that article by clicking here.

As always, my door is open, and I want to hear your feedback this upcoming session. If you have bill ideas, thoughts on what we need to focus our priorities on, or any other comments or suggestions, please contact my office at 651-296-4306 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. I'm also happy to set up constituent coffee meetings in our community or at the Capitol, whichever is more convenient for you. Please call my office if you wish to set up a meeting.

I'm thankful every day for the trust you've placed in me to be your Representative in St. Paul. I will continue working hard to do what's best for our community in the state of Minnesota.

Take care,


Rep. Anna Wills
District 57B

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