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Capitol Update 16 - 2013

Capitol Update 16 - 2013

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Published by Terri Bonoff
Weekly capitol update from Senator Terri Bonoff
Weekly capitol update from Senator Terri Bonoff

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Published by: Terri Bonoff on May 03, 2013
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Capitol Update 16 5/3/2013 We have less than a month remaining in the legislative session.

The days are heated and tensions are running high. I am hopeful that while each bill at this point may not reflect the outcomes that we are looking for, the negotiating process will yield productive results. This week’s work included the Tax bill and several smaller proposed initiatives.

(VIDEO) Weekly update from Senator Bonoff. Click here to watch

S.F. 552: Tax Omnibus Bill: Voting on the tax bill was more difficult than I had imagined it would be. I had let my colleagues know that I opposed the amount of money that was being raised, the property tax relief the bill provided and the manner in which it was raised. While I do not agree with everything (nor did I vote for the final bill), I give a lot of credit to the Chief Authors, Senator Rod Skoe (Becker) and Senator Ann Rest (New Hope), for the hard work they put in over the past four months in crafting a bill that seeks to reform our tax system. I support the proposed reform to broaden the base of the sales tax and reduce the rate by nearly a full percent. With

demographics changing and the income tax becoming more volatile and less dependable, this policy would make our tax system more reliable and provide consistent revenue streams. Many argue that this would be regressive and unfairly hurt lower income families. This concern would be offset by the rebate which would be given to families under a certain level of income. I strongly supported the Mayo Clinic provision and the increase to the Angel Investment Tax Credit. Therefore, opposing the overall bill was tough. In some cases, when I am mixed I voice my concern and then support the overall package. Yet in this case I have repeatedly said that given we are in a fragile time, emerging from this recession, prudent fiscal management is required. Increasing income taxes to a rate that makes MN an outlier is something I could not support. I do believe investments in early childhood care and education, as well as higher education are critically important to our future. I believe we must provide for those who are disabled and most vulnerable. I will continue to explore how we can maximize our resources in a way that delivers on these priorities while protecting our economic future. I am unsure how the final tax bill will look following the negotiations between House, Senate, and the Governor. I will give the new agreement a fresh look and will welcome your counsel (see survey question below).

Senator Bonoff talking with Senator Tom Bakk on the Senate floor this week.

Nurse Ratio Study: Earlier in the session, Senator Hayden (Minneapolis) introduced a bill that would set a mandatory staffing ratio for nurses to patients. I was concerned about this proposal because I don’t believe there is a “one-size-fits-all” ratio that will result in maximized outcome/performance for all hospitals across the state. Rather, it seems to me (and many of the constituents that contacted my office) that setting a mandatory ratio can actually hurt more than it can help it certain cases. As the bill made its way through the committee process, others expressed concern, and the author agreed to turn the bill into a study. The bill now requires the Minnesota Department of Health to study the correlation between nurse staffing levels and patient outcomes. I appreciated the change in direction that was supported by both the Nurses and the Hospitals. S.F. 379: Ban on BPA and Formaldehyde in Children’s Products This bill, Chief Authored by Senator Katie Sieben (Cottage Grove), aims to address an issue that has come to light over the past couple of years regarding children’s products being manufactured with dangerous chemicals. The bill prohibits manufacturers and wholesalers from selling baby and toddler food in containers that have BPA. A bi-partisan majority of members in the Senate passed this bill. S.F. 247: Granny Scam This past Thursday, I presented Senate File 247 - Wire Transfer Fraud Prevention, more commonly known as the Granny Scam bill. This bill addresses the issue of wire transfer scam artists who prey on our most helpless, typically elderly, citizens who (for many different reasons) tend to fall victim to these scams. I want to thank Representative Atkins, Jim Arlt, and AARP for their hard work and support on this bill, as well as the many testifiers who came to share their stories about how these scams have cost them money, broken their spirits, and torn apart their families. If you are not familiar with these scams, how they work is that citizens are contacted through e-mail or phone by someone who claims to be close to them and in desperate need of money. The most common scam is an elderly person being contacted by their “grandson/daughter” who says they need money to help them out of a tough situation and cannot go to their parents with the request. Like any loving grandparent would, many of the victims wire money without thinking twice. Those who have been tricked are then put on a hitlist for other scam artists to use when looking for easy marks. Most victims are scammed multiple times. It is financially and personally crippling for the individuals and families involved.

On Thursday, the Senate sent a message that these scams will not be tolerated in Minnesota; that we will stand up for our most vulnerable citizens and not let them fall victim to outside scam artists. The bill passed unanimously off the Senate floor.

SURVEY: While I am just as much in the dark as you are regarding the final Tax bill, my guess is that we will see a tax on the top 2% at a rate of 8.5%, with no expansion of the sales tax. If this was the conclusion, would you vote for it? Click here to respond.

Stay tuned for future updates and, as always, let me know what you think – Email: sen.terri.bonoff@senate.mn Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/tbonoff Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/terri_bonoff Phone: 651-296-4314

Best Regards,

Terri Bonoff

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