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Ingebrigtsen offers his take on the 11th week of Legislature

State Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, provided the following summary of his work at the Legislature during the 11th week of the session. Budget update This week, I presented my recommended budget reduction to the Environment Committee. W...

State Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, provided the following summary of his work at the Legislature during the 11th week of the session.

Budget update

This week, I presented my recommended budget reduction to the Environment Committee. We will continue to work through the budget bill this upcoming week and hopefully pass it this Tuesday. The Senate Agriculture and Judiciary committees also began discussions of their omnibus budget bills working to meet the aggressive March 25 date for finance committees to report appropriations bills.

Tax bill pays back delayed refunds, brings conformity

A bi-partisan, unanimous vote of the Minnesota Senate advanced a measure this week to bring the state's individual income and corporate franchise taxes into conformity with recent federal changes. The measure fulfills the state's commitment to pay back previously delayed corporate franchise and sales tax refunds to Minnesota businesses. The bill (House File 79) has the support of revenue department officials and Governor Dayton has indicated that he will sign it.

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State employee pension contribution

A bill introduced this week would shift 3 percent of responsibility for taxpayer-paid pensions to government employees. The change includes legislators and all state and local government staff except firefighters and police officers. This bill brings government employee pension participation more in line with contributions made by private-sector workers. I believe current taxpayer liability to government employee pensions is unsustainable. This measure would relieve local government obligations to pensions, freeing up funds to be used for needs like local property tax relief. We need to live within our means, and this bill will save the state's General Fund approximately $50 million in the first biennium.

Community paramedics will help rural residents

A bill to allow experienced paramedics to become certified by the Emergency Medical Services Regulatory Board as "community paramedics" passed the Senate with unanimous bipartisan support. The measure would allow paramedics to be certified after 120 additional hours of training. The plan would benefit rural Minnesota, whose citizens are sometimes at a disadvantage in their ability to receive the proper care. The goal is to provide additional care with already existing health care resources.

Tax credits for low-income scholarships

An interesting bill progressing through Senate committees is one for tax credits for businesses and individuals to create scholarships to benefit low-income students and both public and private schools statewide. Using tutors, preschool assistance, and need-based scholarships, the program seeks to help families and schools raise graduation rates and help individuals achieve a brighter future.

Census and redistricting

Newly released census numbers will begin the once-a-decade redistricting process that adjusts the boundaries of all eight congressional districts and most of the state's 201 legislative districts according to population. The target population for each congressional district is about 663,000.

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The 4th, 5th and 7th Congressional Districts have to pick up the most population in order to ensure that every district has equal representation whereas the 2nd and 6th Congressional districts have to give up population. The State Demographer also released the population for each Minnesota Senate District.

Surveys

We kindly ask you to provide us with your input regarding the 2011 legislative session by participating in this legislative survey. Your thoughts and opinions are very helpful to us as we represent you at your Capitol. Find the joint survey with your representative below:

Joint survey with Rep. Franson here: http://bit.ly/gSlEMc

Joint survey with Rep. Westrom here: http://svy.mk/elWMF0

Coming up

Lawmakers will face long hours of hearings as committees roll out detailed government funding spreadsheets and take testimony next week to meet the upcoming deadline.

On Monday, the Committee on State Government Innovation and Veterans will begin hearings on the public employees' pension shift bill and a salary reduction for state employees and elected officials.

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The Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee will hear SF 858 on Wednesday. That measure explores federal health coverage mandate compliance requirements, and seeks to repeal certain mandated health benefits.

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