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2010 Minnesota Legislative Week in Review

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opinion Morris, 56267

Morris Minnesota 607 Pacific Avenue 56267

It is less than one week into the 2010 Legislative Session, and already

the Minnesota Senate is facing some tough issues and encountering some

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spirited debate. Here is an update from this week.

BONDING BILL. The Governor indicated last fall that he would support a

bonding bill that was "affordable, responsible, and features only

projects that have statewide impact." I have worked closely with the

Governor's office and our area leaders to get projects in the bill

that will benefit community and our state at large.

On Tuesday, we took up the Senate's version of the bonding bill.

Unfortunately, as a member of the minority party, I have no control over

what irresponsible projects that get included in the bill. I can only

fight for projects that are good investments for Minnesota. I have been

assured by the Governor's office that he will cut the unnecessary and

wasteful projects.

The bill includes $6 million for a waste-to-energy facility for

Pope/Douglas Soild Waste Management Expansion to help build a third

combustor.

With the additional combuster, several local businesses and public

facilities will be able to expand and provide additional growth.

Douglas County Hospital, 3M, and Alexandria Technical College will

benefit from this project directly which will help the long term

vitality of our community. This is a great long term investment for our

community and the embodies the true intent of the bonding bill.

STATE OF THE STATE. Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty gave his final

State of the State address under the fog of a $1.2 billion shortfall,

asking what we can do to make Minnesota a better place to grow private

sector jobs and economy. His answer -- listen to the people who create

jobs, get out of their way, and don't make it harder for businesses to

succeed.

That is good advice. Minnesota's tax system is antiquated and the

business tax climate is the eighth worst in the nation. We have the

third highest corporate tax rate in the developed world and personal

income and sales tax rate among highest in the country, with no

preferential rate for capital gains. In a nutshell, this costs Minnesota

jobs.

Governor Pawlenty proposed a job creation bill containing a 20%

reduction in the corporation tax rate, a 20% exclusion from taxation for

small business, an angel investment tax credit, a "supercharged"

research & development tax credit, a capital gains exclusion for

qualified investments, and incentives for companies to invest in

Minnesota's small businesses.

Governor Pawlenty will release his proposed $1.2 billion in budget cuts

Monday morning.

GAMC. On Thursday morning the Senate was set to convene at 8:30 AM to

take up the reinstatement of the General Assistance Medical Care

Program, which was eliminated through the process of unallotment last

year. In an eleventh-hour change to the bill was made by the chair of

the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, significant portions of

the legislation were altered, complicating the intent and shifting the

financial obligations. Only a select few were made aware of the changes

in advance and the rest of us scrambled to understand the intricate

details in the few minutes before the bill was slated for discussion and

a vote.

People who had been recipients of the state welfare medical program had

been scheduled to be enrolled into the MinnesotaCare program, which

nearly mirrors benefits provided by GAMC. A major difference is that

under MNCare, recipients are required to pay co-pays on a sliding fee

scale with premiums as high as $6 per month with $4 co-pays for some

services. This ensures that they have a responsibility towards their

health care.

I offered an amendment to the bill that would prevent anyone convicted

of criminal sexual predatory conduct from ever receiving GAMC benefits

once they are out of prison. Unfortunately, the DFL majority felt that

these sexual predators should receive taxpayer funded benefits and the

amendment failed on a roll call vote (23-42). Three Democrats voted in

favor of the amendment.

The reinstatement of GAMC, which passed 45-20 on a straight party line

vote, generates a net increase of $168.7 million to the General Fund in

a budget already facing a $1.2 billion deficit.

Thanks for taking the time to read my update and please feel free to

contact me with your questions and comments.

Bill Ingebrigtsen is state senator for District 11, which includes Douglas, Grant, Stevens and Todd Counties

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