Rep. Kiffmeyer's Column

Subhead: 
State Representative
Mary Kiffmeyer
Last week, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed $503 million in tax relief for Minnesota taxpayers and their families. Gov. Mark Dayton called on the Senate to pass the bill immediately so he could sign it into law. Consequently, my Sen-ate Republican colleagues and I attempted a procedural move to bring the bill out of committee and before the full Senate for a vote; however, our efforts were defeated by Senate Democrats. The bill remains in the Senate Tax Committee.
As I have mentioned previously, I am in favor of giving all of the $1.3 billion “surplus” back to the over-taxed and over-regulated taxpayers. The $503 million is only a part and not even half of the total.
Transportation
Over the last two weeks, I held transportation townhall meetings in Otsego and Elk River with MnDOT District Three Assistant Engineer Terry Humbert. We had great conversations about the I-94 Corridors of Commerce project and other Senate District 30 transportation issues.
I recently introduced legislation that would procure state bond funding for a Hwy 101/Hwy 10/Hwy 169 intersection project (SF 2509). There is already a great support team in place to make this critical project happen. I will continue to do all I can with these local advocates to get this legislation passed into law. I will also support other funding proposals for this project.
Lastly, MnDOT is currently in the selection process for awarding innovation grants to cities across the state. The City of Elk River is being considered for a grant to fund a Smart System traffic light operation on Hwy 10. This system would allow for a string of green lights if there is no built-up cross traffic. MnDOT should be making a determination on these grants by early April. I suggest you call or e-mail Tom Dumont from MnDOT to let him know you support this grant. He can be reached at tom.dumont@state.mn.us or give him a call at 320-223-6540.
Medical Marijuana
A bill to legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes is still being debated at the Capitol. It currently faces huge hurdles for passage and Gov. Dayton has publically stated that he will not sign it into law unless it has the support of law enforcement.
Minimum Wage
The minimum wage conference committee appears to be in a stalemate. The committee con-vened and immediately adjourned and no meetings are currently scheduled. The sticking point seems to be the House’s insistence that the minimum wage should be increased to $9.50 and have it tied to inflation.
I believe an increase in the minimum wage to $9.50 is too drastic and would only hurt job hunt-ers and job creators. Raising the minimum wage to the federal conformity at $7.25 per hour seems the highest level most accepted.
Bullying Bill
The Safe and Supportive Schools Act also called the “anti-bullying bill” (House File 826) was considered, amended and passed by the Senate Education Policy Committee but remains highly controversial. The amended bill addresses some school administrations concerns about cost by allowing districts to impose a per student levy without voter approval which I do not find ac-ceptable.. The bill now goes before the Senate Finance Committee.
No matter how much the Democrats try to change it, this bill remains deeply flawed. It still con-tains language that allows for special protection of certain groups instead of protecting all stu-dents. It also still remains an unfunded state mandate for already budget strapped schools. Lastly, it relies on top-down state government involvement rather than local district control.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have questions about MNSure or any other legislative issue.
State Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer 123 State Office Building 100 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. St. Paul, MN 55155 Phone: 651-296-5655 E-mail address- sen.mary.kiffmeyer@senate.mn
 

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BIG LAKE AMBASSADOR 2015-16 candidates were painting faces at the Big Lake Chamber of Commerce Business Expo. They are, from the left, Kayla Robertson, Izzy Rasmussen, Cady Shaw, Bella Kallas, Allie Bahe and Ali Wandersee. (Photo by Jennifer Edwards).

PRAIRIE FIRE THEATER ACTORS Lauren Longyear and Gregory Stowers spent one short week with these Big Lake students working on the play Sleeping Beauty before they presented the show twice this weekend. Prairie Fire is sponsored by Big Lake Community Education. (Photo by Jennifer Edwards).

CENTRACARE HEALTH MONTICELLO BIRTH CENTER staff celebrated their one year anniversary and the birth of 290 babies March 4. Pictured are Timothy Olson, MD, OB/GYN with the Monticello Clinic; Abby LaBounty, MD, Family Physician with Monticello Clinic; Hannah Whelan, RN, Birth Center Manager at CentraCare Health–Monticello; and Matt Hoffman, MD, Pediatrician with Monticello Clinic. (Submitted photos).

A CAR FIRE IN THE PARKING LOT outside Great River Spine and Sport totaled the vehicle as Big Lake Fire Department had to use the jaws of life to open the hood while the flames were so hot they melted the tires and the snow flakes fell. (Photo by Jennifer Edwards).

Jenna and Dan Nygaard visit with Friends of the Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge President Bruce Johnson, who is holding a beaver pelt.