Monthly Archive for March, 2017

Rep Keith Franke Capitol Update: Tax relief (3/31/2017)

>> Click here to join Keith’s legislative update email list <<

Representative Keith Franke

Representative Keith Franke

By Rep. Keith Franke, 3/31/2017

Dear Neighbors,

Tax Relief
What I’ve heard from area residents is they’ve been paying too much in state taxes. Last night, I voted to pass our $1.35 billion relief proposal because I agree: Minnesotans need a break. The largest portion of this relief bill goes toward seniors receiving Social Security. It would also benefit working families, veterans, small business owners and provides $100 million in direct property tax relief to renters and homeowners. I was especially happy to see my property tax provision to help Newport included in this bill.

For me, voting for this legislation was a no-brainer. Residents in our area – and around the state – deserve tax relief, and this bill would do just that.

Transportation Bill
Today, we discussed our transportation funding plan. For the residents of our area, roads and bridges are the primary transportation need. Our bill prioritizes roads and bridges and outlines a 10-year, $6 billion statewide transportation plan. The part I like best is that we can do this WITHOUT raising the gas tax. We have a large budget surplus, along with existing revenue streams, to make a significant investment in our road and bridge infrastructure.

I voted for this bill, and it passed on a 76-54 vote.

AIDS Action Day
This week, I took part in AIDS Action Day at the Capitol. My bill to create a strategic plan to combat HIV/AIDS is moving through the process, and I’m honored to work with members from both parties on this initiative.

Please Contact Me
As you know, I’m always free to talk about issues that are important to you. You can call or email, and I’ll be sure we find a time to connect. If you’re coming to St. Paul, feel free to schedule a time to meet in my office.

Have a great weekend,
Keith

State Representative Keith Franke
567 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155
651-296-4342
rep.keith.franke@house.mn

>> Click here to join Keith’s legislative update email list <<

Rep Tony Jurgens Capitol Update: Tax relief (3/31/2017)

>> Click here to join Tony’s legislative update email list <<

Representative Tony Jurgens

Representative Tony Jurgens

By Rep. Tony Jurgens, 3/31/2017

Hello from St. Paul,

The Minnesota House of Representatives has approved legislation that would provide $1.35 billion in meaningful tax relief. The majority of the proposal is targeted towards middle-class Minnesotans.

There are a number of very worthwhile provisions in this bill, but the one I’m most pleased about is the language that would assist our senior citizens. Reducing the taxes on Social Security is something I heard when I was on the campaign trail from a lot of people, so I’m glad that provision is in here. We wish we could go further with it, and hopefully we can do more in the future, but I think this is a nice first step to work towards eliminating the taxes on Social Security benefits in Minnesota.

Specifically, $269 million in relief is provided for Minnesota’s senior citizens by increasing the income limit thresholds for the taxation of Social Security income. Currently, for married couples, income less than $32,000 is exempt and for single filers that amount is the first $25,000. Under this bill, for tax years 2017 and 2018 married couples will see the first $61,000 exempt from income taxes. For single filers, it would amount to the first $46,500. Beginning in 2019 and continuing, the amounts increase further to $72,000 for married filers and $56,000 for single filers.

There’s also $125 million to address college affordability through a first-in-the-nation tax credit for student loan payments; $35 million for families with young children by modifying the child and dependent care credit; $42 million in relief for farmers by reducing the burden farmers and agriculture land owners pay for school bond referendums; and $203 million to eliminate an extra property tax on small businesses up to their first $200,000 of commercial/industrial property.

With a $1.6 billion surplus, it’s clear we need to allow Minnesotans to keep more of what they earn, and this bill does that.

In other news, I continue to work with MnDOT on the Hastings Highway 316 issue. You’ll recall that after hearing from numerous area residents about raising the speed limit, I offered legislation that would require MnDOT to maintain a 35 mile per hour speed limit on Highway 316 from Highway 61 to just north of Tuttle Drive.

I continue to have faith that we will be able to work out a compromise that will make both the neighborhood and MnDOT happy, and continue my efforts to make this happen. To me, this is and always has been an issue about safety, which was my reason for bringing the bill forward in the first place. Hopefully, there’ll be updated news on this topic very soon.

This week, Pastor Randy Berg from Calvary Christian Church in Hastings served as Chaplain of the Day in the Minnesota House.

Constituent Mary Nehring also visited to advocate on behalf of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network Minnesota.

AFSCME members from Hastings and Cottage Grove also stopped by during their “Day on the Hill.”

A number of area nurses also visited about staffing levels and safety issues.

Nanette and Kay from senior care centers in Hastings also visited the Capitol to advocate for Face Aging Minnesota.

Have a good weekend,
Tony

State Representative Tony Jurgens
523 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155
651-296-3135
rep.tony.jurgens@house.mn

>> Click here to join Tony’s legislative update email list <<

Rep Keith Franke Capitol Update: Another week (3/24/2017)

>> Click here to join Keith’s legislative update email list <<

Representative Keith Franke

Representative Keith Franke

By Rep. Keith Franke, 3/24/2017

Dear Neighbors,

We’ve concluded another week of the legislative session, and are making some big strides. We’re starting to release our large budget bills, and we could be voting on them in the coming weeks. Here are a couple highlights.

Tax Relief
I hear lots from the hardworking people of our area who feel they’re paying too much in state taxes. I couldn’t agree more, and that’s why I’m excited about our proposal to provide $1.35 billion in tax relief for Minnesotans. We have a $1.6 billion surplus; we’re long overdue to give back to taxpayers. One of my favorite provisions will help our seniors by increasing the taxable income limit for Social Security income. This will help our aging population, especially those on fixed incomes.

There’s also great provisions to ease the property tax burden for American Legions and VFW’s, as well as small businesses around the state. We’ve included so many important provisions, and I’m thrilled to advocate for hardworking Minnesotans to receive a break on their taxes.

My Legislation
Another bill we rolled out this week pertains to public safety. This omnibus bill includes language from my bill, HF1475, to combat terrorism in Minnesota. The legislation creates a new felony offense for providing support for an act of terrorism.

When putting together this omnibus bill, our main goal is keeping Minnesotans safe. The language included from my bill is a way to create harsher punishments for those aiding terrorists in our state, and will hopefully deter individuals from providing support for terrorism.

Veteran’s Day
Earlier this week, it was Veteran’s Day at the Capitol. We had such a great turnout, and I was amazed at all the support throughout the day. Thank you to all our veterans and active duty service members for your past and current service to our state and country.

Student Visit
Today, I met with students from Pullman Elementary. It was great showing them around the Capitol and the House chambers. It’s truly the best part of the job!

As always, feel free to contact me to share your thoughts and ideas. I’d love to hear from you.

Have a great weekend,
Keith

State Representative Keith Franke
567 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155
651-296-4342
rep.keith.franke@house.mn

>> Click here to join Keith’s legislative update email list <<

Rep Tony Jurgens Capitol Update: Budget targets (3/24/2017)

>> Click here to join Tony’s legislative update email list <<

Representative Tony Jurgens

Representative Tony Jurgens

By Rep. Tony Jurgens, 3/24/2017

Hello from the State Capitol,

Minnesota House Republicans have unveiled their budget targets for the upcoming biennium, and I’m pleased with a number of the priorities.

With a budget surplus of $1.6 billion, I’ve been looking forward to seeing a plan with some meaningful tax relief. Not only do we have that here, but there’s also more money in our budget for roads and bridges and K-12 Education.

There are a number of provisions that will provide tax relief to middle class Minnesotans. The single largest feature in the bill is the $269 million in relief for Minnesota’s senior citizens by increasing the income limit at which social security income is taxable, which will help those seniors living on a fixed income.

It also provides refundable student loan and college saving plan credits for college students and their families and expanded education deductions and child and dependent care credits for working families.

The tax bill would also eliminate an extra property tax on small businesses up to their first $200,000 of commercial/industrial property and ends the autopilot increases the law applies to this tax; and establishes a property tax credit for farmers that reduces their disproportionate share of school district debt service.

In the area of transportation, The House is looking to invest $450 million into road and bridge infrastructure throughout the state by redirecting existing transportation-related funding streams to the Transportation Priorities Fund. This includes existing taxes on auto repairs, auto rentals, the Motor Vehicle Lease Sales Tax, some of the existing tax on auto parts, and a new $75 surcharge on electric vehicles.

There’s also $1 billion in general-fund serviced Trunk Highway bonds spread over the next four years, $300 million in one-time Corridors of Commerce funding in Fiscal Year 2018, and $200 million per year in general obligation (GO) bonding for transportation and $35 million for rail grade crossings; including one near Treasure Island.

In K-12 Education, the big news is a proposed $1.1 billion in new money being proposed by House Republicans. Over the past few months I have heard from officials in both South Washington County and Hastings schools about the need for new revenue, and this funding infusion would certainly begin to address that need.

In the coming days, these proposals will be debated before their respective House committees and eventually make their way to the House floor for a yes or no vote. I will be sure to keep you updated on their progress.

Recently, Hastings Community Television visited the State Capitol and sat down with me to discuss hot topics being debated at the legislature. To watch the report, please click here.

Have a good weekend,
Tony

State Representative Tony Jurgens
523 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155
651-296-3135
rep.tony.jurgens@house.mn

>> Click here to join Tony’s legislative update email list <<

Rep Keith Franke Capitol Update: Health insurance (3/17/2017)

>> Click here to join Keith’s legislative update email list <<

Representative Keith Franke

Representative Keith Franke

By Rep. Keith Franke, 3/17/2017

Dear Neighbors,

We had another busy week in committees as we’re hitting our second of three deadlines. I’m loving the process, especially hearing from you and advocating for your views.

Health Care Bill Passes
On Monday, we passed an important bill intended to lower health insurance premiums and stabilize the individual market. Our legislation is estimated to provide a 17-18% reduction in premiums, which is a large amount when looking at how high some of these rates have gotten. A goal this session was to stabilize the individual insurance market, and this bill can do that by creating a reinsurance program that is predicted to reduce premiums. We passed this bill on a bipartisan vote, and I look forward to continuing to support this needed legislation.

School Safety Bill
This week, I introduced a bill, HF2402, to increase the penalty for trespassing on school property. The legislation would increase trespassing on school property from a misdemeanor to a gross misdemeanor. It also includes language for those attempting to enter a school under false pretenses. The bill is in response to a recent story at Champlin Park High School where a 42-year-old man entered the school to engage in sexual acts with a special needs student.

First and foremost, this bill is about improving safety for our kids at school. As a father and grandfather, I want our students to know they’re safe as they’re learning. When I heard the news of a grown man trespassing on school grounds for these purposes, I knew something had to be done to stop this from happening in the future.

After I introduced the bill, I was interviewed by KSTP about the legislation. If you’re interested, you can see the segment here.

Combatting HIV/AIDS
My bill to create a strategic plan to end HIV/AIDS in Minnesota had another hearing in committee. It passed the committee and was referred to the general register which means it could be heard on the floor. It’s a great bill that doesn’t cost money, but helps create a more effective blueprint to end these diseases in our state.

Local Meeting
On Tuesday, I attended the Grey Cloud Island Township’s Annual Board Meeting. There was a great turnout and we had an informative discussion about the future of the township. I enjoyed seeing everyone who came to the meeting, and listening to their concerns.

Please Contact Me
As always, please contact me if you need anything. I’m always willing to chat with residents of our area, and hope you’ll reach out.

Have a great weekend,
Keith

State Representative Keith Franke
567 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155
651-296-4342
rep.keith.franke@house.mn

>> Click here to join Keith’s legislative update email list <<