The legislative session is picking up steam in St. Paul, and there are some ideas with real potential to move Minnesota forward. Unfortunately, there are also some ideas that would cause a lot of harm to Minnesota’s working families.
Top 10 bills to watch at the Capitol.
10. Repeal the Estate Tax
Republicans in the Minnesota Senate introduced a very simple bill recently: repeal the estate tax. The estate tax only kicks in on families leaving behind $1.2 million dollars or more to their families. As you can guess, that’s a small percentage of Minnesotans. The Republican bill would eliminate this all together, just one more example of the Minnesota GOP working for the wealthy, not middle class families.
As vaccinations dominate the nation’s attention, Minnesota lawmakers are taking action. Rep. Mike Freiberg, DFL-Golden Valley, introduced a bill requiring parents to speak with a doctor before they can opt out of vaccinating their children. Many parents are misinformed about vaccines, says the CDC. This DFL plan would help solve that problem, and help parents make the most informed decisions for their kids, and others in the same classes.
8. Repeal Business Tax Breaks
Once again, Minnesota Republicans have prioritized business tax breaks above everything else. The first bill the Republican House introduced, HF 1, provides $250 million to the wealthy and businesses. It’s unlikely that Republicans will make a legislative 180 this year and start working for working families.
7. Family Planning Restrictions
Governor Dayton’s budget includes funding family planning services across the state, so families at all income levels have access to proper family care. The grant Governor Dayton supports provides low-income, high-risk women with pre-pregnancy family planning services, including counseling and education, preconception care, screening and lab tests. But Republicans don’t like that. In a recent committee hearing, Republicans nitpicked the details of these grants, perhaps searching for an imaginary code word for abortion. Look out for conservatives to continues fighting this important work that helps all Minnesota women and their families.
6. Repealing Corporate Property Taxes
It’s not new for Republicans to work toward repealing corporate property taxes and this year is no exception. Minnesota Republicans yet again put this proposal on the table, and yet again pushed working families aside. Watch for the GOP to put this same idea in their tax bill again this year.
5. Mental Health Support
Another important proposal put forward by Governor Mark Dayton is increased support for mental health services. This includes funding for preventive and early-intervention programs, improving access to mental healthcare, and cutting down the distance some Minnesotans have to travel to receive proper care. A coalition of 35 mental health advocacy groups quickly applauded this proposal, but will conservatives get on board?
Gov. Dayton pledged to increase investments in education every year he is in office, and this year he continues to come through on his promise. Gov. Dayton proposed offering all-day, year-round pre-school to every 4 year old in Minnesota who wants to attend. This is a crucial investment building on recently enacted all-day kindergarten. Research shows that early investments for Minnesota’s youngest learners is a strong way to improve educational equity, giving kids from all backgrounds a fair shot at success. Here’s hoping that we can all agree that our littlest learners should have the best shot.
3. Childcare Tax Credit
92,000 more Minnesota families would receive a childcare tax credit under Gov. Dayton’s proposal, to help working families afford quality childcare services. Minnesota has some of the highest childcare costs in the country, and it’s become a huge financial obstacle for working families. Gov. Dayton’s proposal would help ease that burden for families, so they can afford the best care for their kids. Hopefully this session we’ll see an increased effort to help working parents take care of their kids while keeping good paying jobs.
2. Earned Sick Leave
A recent study found that 40% of Minnesota workers, nearly 1 million people, do not have access to earned sick or safe time. That means they must choose between their health, staying home with a sick kid or their wages. This puts an immense pressure on families. Proposed legislation would address this problem by requiring employers to offer workers earned sick time. Employees would earn 5-9 sick days depending on the size of their employer after four months on the job. The sooner this passes the better, so that workers don’t have to come in sick and parents can take time off to care for their families, without it affecting them negatively at work.
Minnesota’s infrastructure is not doing well. Half of Minnesota’s highways are over 50 years old, and the Minnesota Department of Transportation estimates it will cost $6 billion dollars to address these growing issues. Governor Dayton put forward a transportation plan that takes the entire issue into account, and provides $6 billion to repair and replace our roads and bridges. The Minnesota Senate offered a similar plan that addresses the many concerns of transportation in Minnesota. The Republican House, however, has not. The GOP majority put forth a proposal that would only cover the cost of one bridge in Greater Minnesota, leaving the rest of Greater Minnesota and the state’s infrastructure in disrepair. Minnesotans know we need safe roads and bridges. It’s crucial that Minnesota Republicans recognize this need and address transportation, like our progressive leaders have already done.