Monday, January 14, 2013

Second Week is Underway.  The Legislature leaped into its second week with floor sessions today.  Bills were introduced in both bodies (35 in the House and 17 in the Senate) with only one of them relating directly to education.  SF 23 (Metzen)/HF 64 (Hansen) is a local bill that would make South St. Paul SSD #6 eligible for the alternative facilities program.  There were no education-related hearings in either the House or the Senate today.

The Busy Subcommittee.  While most committees and subcommittees are taking their time getting into business, Senator Ann Rest's Senate Tax Reform Division of the Senate Tax Committee is jumping right into things starting on Wednesday.  Senator Rest has introduced five sales tax-related bills (SFs 8, 9, 11, 34, and 35) that either lift or alter the sales tax exemption on certain products (items of clothing with a retail price greater than $200, digital products, on-line sales) and dropping the sales tax rate that will be heard this week.  Broadening the sales tax  base and reducing the sales tax rate has long been discussed in Minnesota and there is some conjecture that the Governor's comprehensive tax reform package will feature efforts in this direction.  While Senator Rest's bills are coming from her and not the Governor, it is safe to assume that the arguments heard this Wednesday and Thursday will be heard again if the Governor's plan contains similar  provisions.

Left-over News from Last Week.  In the DFL caucus press conference after the first round of bill introductions last Thursday, Majority Leader Tom Bakk (DFL-Cook) remarked that the Senate was not very interested in investing money into an accelerated buy-back of the shift, which runs counter to what seems to be the approach taken in the House.  As you may recall, HF 1, authored by Representative Yvonne Selcer (DFL-Minnetonka), would bring the state aid payment schedule back to 90%/10% by the end of this fiscal year.

Here is the link to footage from the press conference.  In addition to Senator Bakk's comments later in the clip, Senator Greg Clausen (DFL-Apple Valley), the chief author of the all-day kindergarten bill, describes the reasoning behind that bill.


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