With the 2012 legislative session set to start on January 24th, I'd like to provide you with a preview of topics expected to come up this year.
Jobs and the economy: While there are signs that Minnesota is slowly pulling out of the recession there are still 175,000 Minnesotans out of work and middle class families are struggling to make ends meet. This is why job growth is my top priority for the 2012 legislative session.
The budget: The December 1st budget forecast showed an unexpected $876 million surplus. It is unclear if the surplus will still exist when the forecast is updated in February. If we have surplus, state law directs that it be used to replenish the state's budget reserve and its cash flow account.
Bonding for public works: A primary focus of each even-year legislative sessions is to pass a bonding for construction projects, such as repairs and improvements to roads and bridges, wastewater systems, flood mitigation, and fixing buildings on college campuses. I am advocating for a much-needed Science building at Metro State University.
Property tax relief/reform: Soaring local property taxes have placed property taxes high on the agenda. Homeowners are reeling from property tax increases that resulted from the elimination of the Market Value Homestead Credit (I strongly opposed getting rid of the Homestead Credit.)
Constitutional amendments: A constitutional amendment to prohibit same sex marriage has already been put on the ballot for November 2012. This issue may come up again in the 2012 session. A proposal to require a photo ID to vote will also likely be proposed as a constitutional amendment this session.
Vikings stadium: Based on the amount of media coverage this issue receives, I believe a stadium debate will take up some of the 2012 legislature's time but I am unsure if it will be resolved.
Health insurance marketplace: There is a proposal to set up an exchange where small businesses and individuals can shop for health insurance.
K-12 school payment shift: Undoing an unpopular accounting shift that was used to address a portion of the state budget deficit last year could be attempted.
Redistricting: Following each census, legislative districts are redrawn. The new district maps being formed by a judicial panel are to be made public in late February.
As I prepare for the upcoming session, I welcome your input on these or any other legislative issues. Feel free to email me at email@example.com, call me at (651) 296-4201.