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Senate District 60 2012 Legislative Report

Senate District 60 2012 Legislative Report

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Published by Scott Dibble
Minnesota Senate District 60 2012 Legislative Session Wrap Up Report
Minnesota Senate District 60 2012 Legislative Session Wrap Up Report

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Published by: Scott Dibble on Jun 29, 2012
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07/10/2013

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Dear Friends,
 
Thank you for giving us the honor of representing you in the Minnesota Legislature.The recently concluded biennial session was marked by gridlock. The Republicanlegislative majorities did not balance the budget in a fiscally responsible manner.Unfortunately, the legacy of the 2011-2012 session will be passage of a large public subsidy for a new Vikings stadium, promotion of constitutional amendmentsto restrict the freedom to marry for the LGBT community, and an effort to suppressvoting rights through a restrictive photo ID requirement. These ballot questions will  be decided in the general election on November 6.One positive accomplishment of the session was a reform to Minneapolis’ police and fire pension funds which will curb steep increases in city property taxes.With the support of Governor Dayton, we were able to turn back efforts to curtail  a woman’s right to reproductive self-determination, restrict collective bargaining, attack public school teachers, and increase Metro Transit bus and train fares.The Capital Bonding bill included support for affordable housing, MinneapolisCommunity and Technical College and a rail transit hub in downtown Minneapolis.We appreciate the active involvement in state legislative issues of so many of you.Please continue to write, call or visit us with your legislative and community concerns.
Rep. Frank Hornstein Rep. Marion Greene Sen. Scott Dibble
2012 LEGISLATIVE REPORT
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ANTI-MARRIAGE AMENDMENT
We are extremely disappointed that a constitutionalamendment that will permanently restrict the freedomof loving, committed same sex couples to get marriedin Minnesota will appear on the November generalelection ballot. An incredible coalition has come to-gether to defeat the amendment. This coalition seeksto displace the disinformation from amendment pro-ponents with a civil discussion about the importanceof freedom in our democracy; the fact that marriage isabout love and commitment; and that, in Minnesota,we come together not to judge one another, but totreat each other the way we would want to be treatedourselves.
 VOTER ID AMENDMENT
 Another disappointing outcome of the 2012 sessionwas passage of a constitutional amendment torequire photo identification for voting, which will beon the November ballot. The amendment, if passed,will make it difficult for many Minnesotans to exercisetheir right to vote, including senior citizens, students,people with disabilities and new citizens. It threatenssame-day registration and some forms of absenteevoting. There is, in fact, no evidence of voter fraudand voter impersonation in Minnesota, and a voter IDrequirement has significant financial costs to the stateand to individual voters.
 VIKINGS STADIUM
We voted against the Vikings Stadium financing planbecause it relies too heavily on expanding gamblingfor the state share of funding, and places significantrestrictions on the future use of Minneapolis salestaxes for non-sports facility purposes. The legislationalso preempts the city charter, and as a resultMinneapolis voters will have no say in whether citysales taxes should be used for stadium constructionand operations. We supported plans that wouldhave raised more revenue from private sources andstadium users, or revenue that also could have beenused for more effective investments in our economicfuture. We will work to ensure that Minneapolistaxpayers will not have to contribute more if stategambling taxes fall short of projections.
EDUCATION
Fully 40% of all school funding is now held backevery year in a measure Minnesota Republicanspassed in 2011 as their budget fix. In 2012, themajority party rejected long-term solutions to payback schools and begin to permanently solvestructural budget problems. The Republicanlegislature mimicked the national push of attackingpublic school teachers. While 40% of Minnesota’sschool districts have agreements with teacher unionsthat recognize factors in addition to seniority in thehiring and firing of teachers, efforts were made toinstitute a one-size-fits-all approach. In good news,the teacher evaluation process called for in 2011 is
 
well underway. Additionally, Minnesota was one of nine states to win a federal Race To The Top (RTT)early learning grant. Winning states were asked todemonstrate a commitment to making early learningprograms more effective, accessible and coordinated.
TRANSPORTATION
The legislature missed important opportunities toexpand public transportation and improve road andbridge safety. We succeeded in halting Republicanproposals to both increase fares and cut Metro Tran-sit. The Omnibus Transportation Policy bill includedDibble-Hornstein provisions to enhance bike safetyand ensure that bicycles with a modest boost to ped-als be defined simply as bicycles. While the bondingbill did include a small amount of funding for a down-town Minneapolis light rail and commuter rail hub,known as the Interchange, no progress was made tosupport the Southwest LRT line, nor the I-35W/LakeStreet transit station. It also barely made a dent infunding needed for bridge and road safety improve-ments, which is particularly troubling as we approachthe fifth anniversary of the I-35W bridge collapse.
BONDING
The legislature made a $496 million investment ininfrastructure improvements though the biennialcapital bonding bill. While the Southwest Light RailTransit Corridor was not funded (even with the strongbacking of the metro business community and thecitizens in the western suburbs), the bill does investin a transit center to be located near the Twinsstadium. Additionally, the final legislation contains$50 million for asset preservation and replacementfor the University of Minnesota, and $95 millionfor investment in Minnesota’s state colleges anduniversities, most notably $8.9 million for updatingclassroom and training facilities at MinneapolisCommunity and Technical College.
PROPERTY TAXES
Republican budgets have driven property taxes, themost regressive tax, up 82%, fully $3.8 billion in thelast 10 years via cuts to Local Government Aid andCounty Program Aid, cuts to K-12 education, andtransportation costs pushed onto local governments.Before they would end their government shutdownlast summer, Republicans insisted on eliminating theMarket Value Homestead Credit, making permanentthe cut to the renters’ credit, and expanding theaccounting shift to which public schools are subject.Meanwhile, Republicans sought elimination of thestatewide property tax for businesses, which onceagain would have pushed more taxes onto residents.One bright spot was our success in merging policeand fire pension funds into the state’s larger pensionsystem, eliminating what would have been a $26million Minneapolis property tax levy.
ARTS/LEGACY 
In the face of continuing tight budgets, proposals werefloated to divert constitutionally dedicated Legacyfunds for a variety of projects, including the Vikingsstadium, restoration of the State Capitol building, andeven a proposal to insist that 40% of the fund addressK-12 education needs. Such plans run contrary tothe intent and language of the recently enactedLegacy Amendment. Highlights of the final bills wereinvestment in aquatic invasive species research at theU of M and continued significant supplemental fundingto be distributed by the Minnesota Arts Board.

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