The Minnesota Legislature finished its 2013 session last night at midnight with rare precision as both the House and Senate adjourned at the same moment. Democrats number among their accomplishments all-day kindergarten, property tax relief, and freezing tuition at state-run colleges and universities. Republicans point to a top-bracket income tax increase, cigarette tax hike and more government spending.
The DFL-controlled Minnesota Senate approved a top-bracket income tax increase and a hike in the cigarette tax Monday night just before the legislature adjourned. Governor Dayton is expected to sign the bill into law. The House approved the tax bill earlier in the day, with all 61 Republicans, and 4 Democrats voting against the measure. Local Representative Paul Torkelson opposed the bill because he says it ignores any sort of much-needed property tax reform. He says that the bill raises taxes by more than $2-billion – cigarette taxes, income taxes, and business-to-business service sales taxes, some of which will hit farmers the hardest. In addition, he says many of the other budget bills contain fee increases, to the tune of $300 to $500-million.
After many hours of debate, the Minnesota House passed a bill allowing daycare operators and personal care attendants to vote on whether or not they want to form a union. The bill passed the House 68-66. Republican Representative Glen Gruenhagen of Glencoe says that poll after poll shows that Minnesota daycare providers do not favor unionization, and that the bill was just a grab for union dues. Five DFLers joined all 61 Republicans in opposing the bill, although there were cheers heard from the House Gallery following the vote. The bill now heads to Governor Dayton, who is likely to sign it.
$109-million to renovate the State Capitol is the key feature of a scaled-back bonding bill lawmakers agreed upon late Monday night. The Bonding Bill also includes $22-million for a new parking ramp at the State Capitol, $20-million for flood mitigation projects, $19-million for the Minneapolis Veterans Home, $11-million for Como Zoo, and funding for a number of smaller projects. The total amount of the bonding bill is about $177-million, compared to the $800-million originally proposed by the House.