Sen. Ingebrigtsen summarizes Legislature's first weekThe 2012 session has begun and is off with a bang!
By: By Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria , Alexandria Echo Press
Editor's note: The following is Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen's, R-Alexandria, weekly summary of his work at the Minnesota Legislature.
The 2012 session has begun and is off with a bang!
A NEW SESSION
The 2012 session convened this past Tuesday and for the first time in years with a surplus rather than a budget deficit – nearly $1 billion. This is a great budget improvement from the $5.2 billion deficit the that was inherited in the 2011 Legislative Session. This impressive feat was met making tough choices on the spending side of the budget, prioritizing the state’s needs, providing regulatory reform and enhancing job growth. This budget surplus provides not only opportunities as we move ahead, but allows the 2012 Session to focus on much needed government reforms and helping job creators put Minnesotans back to work.
The Senate will observe a brief break on Monday, Feb. 6 and Tuesday, Feb. 7, so senators can return to their districts for precinct caucuses. To find out where your caucus will be held, please visit the Secretary of State's link here: http://caucusfinder.sos.state.mn.us/ The Senate will reconvene at noon on Wednesday. Governor Dayton has announced that he will give his second State of the State address Feb. 15 at 7 p.m. in the House chambers.
I joined a number of Senate Republicans who introduced legislation this week allowing Minnesotans to decide whether to amend the state constitution to require voters to show identification in elections. Despite overwhelming public support for Voter ID, Gov. Dayton vetoed a bill last session that would have required voters to provide photo identification before receiving a ballot. Polls have indicated that 75 percent or more of Minnesotans want a photo ID requirement to vote.
PROPERTY TAX RELIEF
Homeowners who are have seen increases and whose property taxes are high relative to income should look at the state’s property tax refund program (PTR). The Legislature included a $30 million expansion of the program, which provides direct relief to homeowners. This is an important reform that provides relief directly to homeowners most in need, and should offset increases that may have occurred with changes to state tax law.
Along with this increase in the PTR program, there is an additional program specifically for homeowners whose property taxes increased more than 12 percent and $100. Homeowners can see if they are eligible for these two programs at MN Department of Revenue website:
Our state Constitution gives the Legislature responsibility in redrawing our legislative district lines every 10 years, after the census is taken. The courts will unveil the new district lines on February 21. All 134 House and 67 Senate Districts will be redrawn and all senators and representatives will be up for election on Nov. 6.