Scott Dibble State Senator
111 State Capitol
75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

St. Paul, MN 55155

Rep. Frank Hornstein Sen. Scott Dibble

Senate District 61 Newsletter

sen.scott.dibble@senate.mn www.senate.mn/senatordibble


471 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

Frank Hornstein State Representative
St. Paul, MN 55155

rep.frank.hornstein@house.mn www.house.mn/61A


At the same time the wealthiest have enjoyed leaps in their fortunes, they have manipulated the political system to pay less in taxes and severely cut investments in public services that expand economic competitiveness and shared prosperity. That began to change this session with an income tax rate increase on the wealthiest two percent (who pay fully two percent less than the rest of us) that will raise $1.14 billion over the biennium. There was also a significant closure of corporate tax loopholes. Important to these tax reform efforts is $441 million in property tax relief to Minnesotans – a significant step in the right direction given that property taxes have doubled since 2003. Reversing Local Government Aid cuts, enacting a sales tax exemption for local governments, increasing the Homestead Credit and Renters Credit Refunds, decreasing school levies, and enacting levy limits are components of this initiative. Our legislation to close a tax loophole some corporations use to shelter assets in overseas tax havens was not included in the final tax bill. We believe that corporations should pay their fair share of taxes and not receive a tax exemption for funds they hide in the Caribbean, remote Pacific islands and other tax havens.

Fair and transparent revenue system

Dear friend,

more proud of our great state. Wow. What a year! We could not be that we can work hard to create Once again, Minnesotans have shown ge for all, a better education for a brighter future for everyone. Marria iously shut out, opening up job so many, health care for thousands prev ng and restoring our environopportunities, cleaner energy, preservi s are just a few of the accomment, and returning fairness to our taxe e of this was possible without the active Non plishments of this legislative session. nge in the otans like you. From pressing for cha nes involvement and dedication of Min many the ugh thro itol ng presence at the Cap zing elections of last November to your stro ama this ted crea that people of Minnesota . We debates on important policies, it is the ding ksli bac and ing ’s worth of shifting, blam a state as turnaround, reversing over a decade e plac held long its move, able to take the on in aga e onc is ota nes Min feel like e is simple: Thank you! that works for everyone. Our messag Sincerely, D. Scott Dibble State Senator, District 61 Frank Hornstein State Representative, District 61A

With nearly a billion dollars in new funding, the legislature made an historic investment in education this session. To better prepare our kids for school and life, we made free all-day kindergarten available for every child in Minnesota. Thousands of young learners will also have access to high quality early childhood education with $40 million going to early learning scholarships. Minnesota’s K-12 education system received a $485 million funding increase, and we accelerated a plan to pay back the

Investment in education
$2.7 billion the previous legislature borrowed from our schools by 2014. Minnesota’s college students will finally get some relief after a decadelong trend of skyrocketing tuition. We implemented a two year tuition freeze at all public colleges and universities and increased student aid by $46.7 million. Part-time students will now at long last be able to access aid. Through the “Minnesota Prosperity (Dream) Act” undocumented students who attended high school in Minnesota will now be eligible for state

grants and in-state tuition, expanding their opportunity to become productive Minnesotans as adults. High-stakes testing has been reformed in order to better help students become college and career ready. Instead of merely failing students, diagnostic examinations will provide targeted remediation for those who need it, allow the brightest to be promoted, and ensure a pathway to academic success for all students.

Not Printed at Government Expense.

More important than the revenue it will raise, the decision to raise taxes on cigarettes is the incredible health benefit. We will, at long last, also stop the masquerade of cigarettes being sold cheaply as “little cigars” to youngsters. Tobacco use, smoking cigarettes especially, costs Minnesota over $3 billion in health care costs every year ($554 for every single one of us). The pain and misery for victims and their families is immeasurable. Raising the cost of cigarettes by $1.60 will prevent 47,700 kids from becoming smokers, help 36,600 current smokers quit, save 27,700 Minnesotans from premature death and save Minnesota $1.65 billion in long term health care costs.

Tobacco taxes

Youth intervention, responding to youngsters at the first sign that they may have stepped onto the wrong path, is highly successful in helping them do better in school and succeed in life, with 90% not reoffending while in a program. We were pleased to restore a significant portion of funding lost in recent years.

Helping Youth Succeed

When an individual has worked hard to overcome a past mistake and would like to take responsibility, start a career, and become a contributing member of society, it is important that they be able to at least get a foot in the door. Employers will no longer be able to stop a job candidate cold in their tracks if they have a criminal record, because that question is now disallowed on employment applications.

Ban the Box

Housing, Contracts for Deed and Homeowner Bill of Rights
A comprehensive agenda was launched to gain back some of the ground we lost in recent years to ensure that safe, decent, and affordable housing is available to everyone regardless of age, job status, or disability. We made significant strides in services that provide for homelessness assistance and prevention, home ownership, building new affordable housing, helping folks afford their rent, and assisting with rehabs and energy improvements. The Housing Finance Agency receives a 24 percent increase and Health and Human Services housing and homelessness services receives a 42 percent increase. Contracts for Deed are an important tool for those looking to purchase a home who would otherwise not be able. Unfortunately, since the housing collapse, they are also subject to tremendous levels of consumer fraud and abuse. Under a new law authored by Sen. Dibble, those who sell more than four properties per year on contract for deed must provide full disclosure to buyers of terms and requirements of transactions. The long sought homeowner bill of rights was passed. Lenders must first consider loan modifications before foreclosing on properties. Homeowners must also be made fully aware of all their rights to redeem their mortgage from foreclosure upon each communication. Loan servicers are also prohibited from “dual tracking” – starting foreclosure proceedings on a property while at the same time assessing a homeowner’s eligibility for a loan modification.

Our session got off to a great start when we were able to pass a significant expansion to Medicaid, a cornerstone of Obamacare, in which we were able to cover an additional 35,000 very low income Minnesotans and save the state $1 billion. Not long thereafter we enacted MNsure, the state’s online health care exchange and marketplace where individuals, families and small businesses who currently lack access to high quality, affordable health insurance, will be able to easily shop for a plan that suits them best. Individuals who will remain with MinnesotaCare because they earn too much to qualify for Medicaid will also see improvements. Minnesota received special federal recognition for our innovations and will be able to access federal funds to transition to a “Basic Health Plan” which will be even better than MinnesotaCare. Seniors and others will benefit from a five percent increase for long term care centers and nursing homes – the first increase in four years. The Elderly Waiver Program that allows older Minnesotans to have in-home care services was given an increase of one percent. Increases in dental Medical Assistance reimbursement rates and rural access programs were achieved as well. An additional $10 million is devoted to make mental health services more available for children. Medical Assistance coverage is provided for more mental health services for low income people and their families.

Health Care -- reform and access

It is hard to express in words how happy and proud we are of Minnesota, taking this long dreamed of step – affirming the values we share: goodness of love, commitment, responsibility, strong families, freedom for everyone and the ability for all of our families to live in dignity. We’d like to share our floor speeches with you:

Freedom to Marry

Sen. Dibble: http://tinyurl.com/SenDibbleMarriageSenateFloor Rep. Hornstein: http://tinyurl.com/RepHornsteinMarriageHouseFloor

Homeless and At Risk Youth & Human Trafficking
Sen. Dibble was proud in 2007 to pass the comprehensive (Runaway and) Homeless Youth Act, which laid out how to successfully respond to young people who are separated from their families and have no home. Services may include street outreach and drop in programs, supportive and transitional housing, family reunification, health care, education, love and belonging. It is exciting to report that, for the first time, substantial financial resources have been devoted to supporting community-based services across the state for these young people. A tragedy largely unseen in our midst is that of human trafficking. A number of initiatives were passed to eliminate this scourge. When youth are caught in the sex trade, they will now be given help to leave rather than be treated as criminals. Police will be trained, and housing and support services will be funded to assist them.

Child Victims Act
Minnesotans who were sexually abused as children will, for the next three years, be able to bring civil lawsuits against their abuser or the institution that facilitated the abuse, rather than seeing the window of justice close once they turn 24.

Underage Drinking Medical Amnesty
Many young people, fearing legal consequences, are afraid to call for help when a friend is experiencing a dire health problem from drinking too much. A new law will give cover so that action can be taken to assist them without fear of reprisal.

The Arts
The availability and enriching experience of the arts are part of the bedrock of our quality of life in Minnesota. The arts make our state a wonderful place to live and give us a great advantage nationally and internationally in attracting and keeping people and businesses. $115 million will go to the arts from our state’s constitutionally dedicated Legacy Funds over the next biennium, with 46% to the State Arts Board that funds programming via Regional Arts Councils. The Minnesota Humanities Center will receive an increase of $750,000 over the biennium. The Minnesota Historical Society will receive almost $28 million for a variety of projects. In the Economic Development bill, the Minnesota Film and TV Board will get $10 million to create production jobs across the state.

Labor Rights for Child Care and Personal Care workers
Our labor force has undergone dramatic changes, with more people providing crucial services but receiving low wages and no benefits, outside of the traditional employer/employee setting. It is unconscionable that we ask people, most of them women, to care for our children and seniors, but don’t value what they do. This can only harm the recipients of those services – our most vulnerable. This year we allowed those workers to the right to decide for themselves whether they would like to come together for the purpose of providing better care and better work circumstances.

Park Dedication Fee
We succeeded this session in securing an additional funding source for Minneapolis Parks. After several years of hard work by the City of Minneapolis and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, we passed legislation enabling Minneapolis to assess a fee on new developments to fund parks in growing areas of the city. Our bill is estimated to bring in an estimated additional $5 million for our park system.

Environment and Clean Water
The legislature’s environmental efforts focused on clean water and curbing invasive aquatic species. Legislation was passed to strengthen the state’s ability to monitor groundwater and surface water supplies. In addition, new steps were taken to fund public awareness, assessment, research and inspections to prevent the spread of invasive plants and species. The legislature also passed a bill to allocate nearly $500 million dollars from the constitutionally dedicated sales tax for outdoors and arts projects. This Legacy bill funded prairie restorations, forest preservation, wetlands conservation efforts, habitat enhancement, clean water protection, parks and trails and the arts. We were disappointed that an additional legislative allocation of $6 million for metro parks was line-item vetoed by the Governor Dayton. The Governor argued that this portion of the bill fell outside the recommendations of a citizens panel empowered to disburse the funds.

Frac Sand
The explosion of mining for sand in the southeastern corner of the state for natural gas and oil drilling presents very serious environmental threats. Local units of government are ill-equipped to respond and the threats affect areas well beyond their boundaries. In response, the legislature authorized the development of model local ordinances and gave the Pollution Control Agency authority to issue permits within one mile of sensitive trout streams. Much more remains to be done.

BPA/Formaldehyde Ban and Toxic Chemicals in Children’s Products
Bisphenol A (BPA) and formaldehyde, both shown to cause serious health problems, will be prohibited for sale in specified children’s products and food containers. Another bill requiring distributors and manufacturers of children’s products that contain harmful chemicals to report that information to the Pollution Control Agency did not pass.

GMO labeling
A bill to allow for labeling and disclosure of whether our food contains genetically modified organisms was not given a hearing. In any case, food labeling is generally controlled by the federal government and so it is uncertain whether states can require more stringent disclosure. However, we are fortunate to have access to community supported agriculture, food cooperatives, and numerous neighborhood farmers markets so widely available.

Craft Beer Growlers
Small craft brewers of beer with a production over 3,500 barrels, but less than 20,000 barrels, will now be able to sell up to 500 barrels in the form of growlers, glass jugs or bottles that folks can take home.

Clean Energy, Saving Energy
Minnesota’s new solar energy standard will create new jobs and give us cleaner air and water. It will require utilities to provide 1.5% of their electric energy from the sun by 2020, and create a statewide goal of 10% by 2030. Additionally, we were successful in offering legislation to allow use of industrial waste heat to be counted as energy efficiency and advance other initiatives to expand our state’s conservation and efficiency efforts. Unfortunately, we were not able to increase our renewable energy standard to 40% by 2030, choosing instead to study this idea.

Despite this truly historic legislative session, much remains to be done.

Work left undone

Transportation remains a piece of unfinished business. As chairs of our respective Senate and House transportation finance committees, we worked hard to develop a balanced bill that would raise new revenue for roads and bridges through a modest gas tax increase. Our plan for an additional 1/2 cent sales tax in the metro area was designed to increase dedicated funding for local bus service, while significantly expanding development of additional light rail and express bus corridors. The final bill, negotiated by the House Speaker, Governor, and Senate Majority Leader contained a new $300 million bonding appropriation for commercial corridors and a new one-time appropriation to cover short-term costs associated with implementing the Southwest Corridor Light Rail Project. The bill also maintained current funding levels for Metro Transit operations. The tax bill did, however, include our legislation to start a pilot project to fund development of street cars in Minneapolis. While we are disappointed that the final bill fell well short of our expectations, we will re-double our efforts to increase revenue to support vital transportation projects across the state when the legislature reconvenes in February 2014.

Product Recycling
A multi-year effort to pass a bill to establish a container recycling refund program (bottle deposit) that can achieve an 80 percent recycling rate was modified to a requirement that the Pollution Control Agency advise the legislature in January 2014 on how to set one up. A new law was enacted requiring paint manufacturers to take responsibility for disposal or reuse of their product at the end of its useful life, incenting them to manufacture paint so it is easier to process into new products or dispose of safely. A similar provision for batteries and carpet did not pass.

In one of the most cynical moves either of us has ever witnessed, in the final days of the session, the Senate Republican minority began what they promised to be a lengthy filibuster sufficient to kill our anti-bullying legislation. This, despite the fact that young people report devastating consequences of bullying, and the fact that every criticism leveled by the opposition had either been addressed or was flatly untrue. The bill remains active and Sen. Dibble has vowed to pass it in the first weeks of the 2014 session. Meanwhile, youngsters are forced to endure another year without the assurance that they can attend a safe and supportive school.

It is almost inconceivable that in the aftermath of the Newtown and Accent Signage tragedies, the National Rifle Association is still able to dominate and thwart any progress to make sure guns are not sold to criminals and dangerous people, and new oversight on the availability of guns designed only to kill as many people as quickly as possible. Even a modest package of ideas proposed by Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman was defeated: keeping guns away from domestic violence and juvenile offenders, stopping the knowing transfer of guns to criminals, keeping ammunition away from criminals and closing shortcomings in keeping them out of the hands of people with mental illness. A citizen led movement, with real power for change, and real consequences for inaction, is the only response that will break the stranglehold the NRA has on the political system. The legislature did provide funding to help fill gaps in records that are used to conduct background checks prior to gun purchases, particularly mental health civil commitment data.

Capital Investment (Bonding)
Another issue that will need to be addressed in 2014 is a larger bonding bill. The Capital Investment Bill pays for a wide range of state infrastructure projects ranging from rehabilitating and constructing university and community college buildings, affordable housing projects, wastewater treatment facilities, roads, bridges and transit systems, museums and cultural venues, and other public assets.The House bonding bill failed to garner a super-majority needed for passage. The effort fell five votes short with all DFLers and only three Republicans supporting the measure. The final House-Senate version which was passed and signed into law contained an appropriation for needed repairs for the State Capitol and State Office Building, along with a few smaller projects around the state. The final bill did not contain two provisions we introduced that were included in the original House bill: funding for upgrades to the Walker Sculpture Garden and support for a new transit station at Lake Street and I-35W.

Minimum Wage
We supported and voted for legislation to increase the minimum wage. The House and Senate passed differing levels for the wage increase. The conference committee charged with resolving those differences did not come to an agreement prior to legislative adjournment, so the matter will likely be resolved in 2014.

Airport Noise
We continue to play an active role in addressing issues related to airport noise. We introduced legislation requesting that the Metropolitan Airports Commission conduct full environmental impact statement on the proposed MSP expansion, changes to takeoffs, landings and air traffic volumes. We also sent a letter to the MAC demanding an EIS. We succeeded in compelling the MAC to also hold meetings of significant public interest outside of the airport security barrier. All citizens previously had to pass through airport security in order to attend all MAC public meetings and hearings.

Elections and Campaign Reform
Voters will be able to vote early or absentee without providing an “excuse,” which will make voting easier and efficient for more people. Electronic poll books will be piloted in some places, making it easier to identify voters and ensure they’re voting in the right place. Several measures did not pass: holding primaries in June, training polling place “challengers” on Minnesota laws and acceptable conduct, and easing the ability of local governments to switch to ranked choice (instant runoff) voting.

Animal Protection
It was not a good year for animals at the legislature. A multiyear effort to require animal breeders (puppy mills) to act responsibly and to eliminate deplorable harm and suffering for dogs was yet again thwarted. Only a unified, energized and broad based grassroots campaign can overcome strong opposition, particularly from those in those in the agriculture and hunting communities, who feel threatened by its provisions. Another bill, authored by Senator Dibble, would allow dogs and cats being retired from experimentation at public higher education laboratories to be adopted into homes rather than being destroyed for no reason. Unfortunately, the bill was defeated because of opposition from the University of Minnesota. Requiring sufficient study into the advisability of allowing the hunting of wolves was also defeated by opposition from hunting interest groups. The Minnesota Companion Animal Protection Act, establishing best practices for animal adoption and care in shelters was not permitted a hearing. A bill to limit the needless death and injury of dogs from body gripping game-hunting traps also did not advance.

Citizens United Federal Constitutional Amendment
The Senate voted to send an official resolution to Congress calling on them to enact an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would, in effect, reverse the Citizens United Supreme Court decision that opened the floodgates of corporate money in elections. If 34 states adopt similar resolutions, Congress will be required to adopt a constitutional amendment that clarifies that Constitutional rights are reserved only for natural persons and not corporations. If Congress fails to adopt an amendment in six months then they would be required to convene a Constitutional Convention. We are hopeful the House will act next year and pass the resolution on to Congress.

Drivers Licenses for All
Easing restrictions on driver’s licenses for nonU.S. citizens, whether or not documented, passed the Senate but did not come up for a vote in the House. This legislation will make our roads and communities safer by ensuring that more drivers have had a chance to learn Minnesota traffic laws, pass a driving test, carry auto insurance and not be needlessly fearful of the police.

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