January 06, 2017

Minnesota Weekly Legislative Update: The 2017 Session Convenes

In the first week of the 2017 session, the Minnesota legislature determined leadership positions in both the House and the Senate and got to work on high-priority issues.

2017 Session Convenes

The House and Senate both met Tuesday and Thursday to swear in members, elect leaders and adopt many of the typical opening week resolutions. The House elected Rep. Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) as Speaker of the House, Rep. Joyce Peppin (R-Rogers) as Majority Leader and Rep. Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park) as Minority Leader. The Senate elected Senator Paul Gazelka (R-Brainerd) Majority Leader, Senator Michelle Fischbach (R-Paynesville) President of the Senate, and Senator Tom Bakk (DFL-Cook) Minority Leader.

MNSure Premium Relief

Governor Mark Dayton began this session with a press conference Tuesday morning making MNSure health care rebates his first priority. He proposed health care premium relief to Minnesotans who don’t qualify for federal tax credits in the individual market. This was the governor’s proposal from October 2016. On Thursday, the House discussed their premium relief bill, H.F. 1, authored by Rep. Joe Hoppe (R-Chaska). A motion to suspend the rules and take immediate action on H.F. 1 did not pass. Speaker Daudt promised action on the bill next week.

Capital Improvements and Tax Relief

Governor Dayton also released his bonding and tax bill proposals this week. The bonding bill was projected to create more than 22,950 jobs and cost $1.5 billion. His $300 million tax bill would provide relief to over 450,000 Minnesotans through a reduction in agriculture property taxes, an increase to the working family credit, and by making child care more affordable.

The House acted quickly Thursday, hearing tax conformity bill H.F. 2 (Davids, R-Preston) in the Tax Committee in the morning and suspending the rules to take it up on the House floor in the afternoon. The bill passed 130-0 and was sent to the Senate. H.F. 2 would conform Minnesota’s income tax to the federal income tax and is retroactive to 2015. All the provisions in the bill were included in the 2016 tax bill that was pocket vetoed by Governor Dayton. The Department of Revenue encouraged passage of the bill by both bodies prior to January 11 in order to avoid any problems for taxpayers who can begin to file on January 23.

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