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Ingebrigtsen: Two minimum wage bills advance

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Editor's note: The following is a Week in Review column written by State Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria.

Taxes

On Thursday, Governor Dayton unveiled his updated budget plan in response to February's budget forecast that shows a lower projected deficit of $627 million for the next two year budget.

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Despite projections of nearly $1 billion in new revenue reflecting modest economic growth, the Governor's plan still calls for $1.8 billion in new taxes to support his overall spending of $37.9 billion for the next two years. The Governor's tax increase plan still counts on his original proposal to create a new 9.85% top tier in the income tax, a $0.94 per pack cigarette tax increase, a "snowbird" tax on part-year residents and a host of corporate tax increases. Some of the spending supported by the sales tax increase was also pulled, notably the $1.4 billion in spending for the $500 homestead property tax rebate. When asked about the budget earlier in the week, Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk didn't dismiss the possibility of keeping at least some business service sales taxes on the table.

Jobs, Agriculture, and Rural Development

The Jobs, Agriculture and Rural Development Committee passed two minimum wage bills - SF 3 (Eaton) and SF 641 (Sparks) - out of committee and to the Senate Floor.

Judiciary

The Judiciary Committee this week is processing a very large number of bills before midnight on Friday evening - as of the most recent count, 55 bills will be heard by the committee this week. Highlights among those include the bill to legalize same sex marriage (SF 925 was passed to the Senate floor on a partisan vote), a further debate on gun issues (SFs 458 v. 1359), accreditation of law enforcement forensic labs (SF 1269), and numerous data practices bills.

Commerce

The Commerce Committee passed the annual liquor omnibus bill (SF 541) which includes a provision to allow breweries to continue to sell bottles commonly known as "growlers" as the brewery grows in size and production of beer.

Environment and Energy Committee

The committee passed a bill, SF183, to Judiciary committee that would broadly expand eminent domain law to increase compensation for landowners in utility eminent domain proceedings.

Another environment bill would mandate product stewardship programs for carpet, batteries and paint. The cost of the program for paint would be $.75/gallon and have an aggregate cost to consumers of more than $4 million

Environment, Economic Development and Agriculture Finance Committee

On Monday, the committee heard budget overviews from the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI), the Department of Agriculture and the Board of Animal Health. On Wednesday, the committee considered a number of bonding projects including the Worthington Bioscience center, St Cloud Beaver Island trails, and the Casey Jones state trail.

Education

The Senate Education Committee completed weeks of hearing various overviews and individual legislative proposals, and it concluded its main work of the Session by consolidating several smaller bills into a large, single "omnibus" bill (SF 978). That bill will be referred next to the E-12 Finance Division because it contains state appropriations and local levies (property taxes) as well as policy.

Higher Education

Outside consultants studying University of Minnesota administrative structure and staffing reported to the Higher Education Committee this week. According to the report, UMN spending breaks down in broad categories as follows:

· 50 percent on direct mission (instruction, outreach, and research);

· 32 percent on mission support (libraries, advisers, student services, IT);

· 9 percent on administrative leadership and oversight (direction, control, and management of the institution includes president, vice presidents, and deans);

· 9 percent on student aid (scholarships and grants from the UMN).

Transportation

The Transportation Committee passed its Omnibus Transportation Policy Bill (SF 1270), which includes numerous changes to traffic regulations. The committee also passed a bill (SF 583) that would allow counties to collect up to $20 per year on each vehicle registered in the county. This bill would also allow county boards to increase the county's sales tax without having to hold a referendum of the voters on the sales tax increase measure.

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State Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen can be reached at (651) 297-8063, by mail at 143 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155, or via email at sen.bill.ingebrigtsen@senate.mn

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