The Minnesota Legislature had a short week after Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. This week was one of transition as committees had fewer introductory hearings and more testimony on bills that are being considered. The week culminated with consensus on allocation of space in the newly renovated Capitol building after a handshake agreement by the Governor and legislative leaders was announced at a Capitol Preservation Commission meeting.
The first bill to reach the governor's desk this session is likely to be federal tax conformity and Destination Medical Center clarification legislation (HF6). The bill passed unanimously in the Senate after being unanimously approved by the House last week.
The House Tax Committee heard testimony on two bills relating to sales tax remittance. The legislative proposals would allow retailers to retain a small portion of the sales tax collected to help address costs associated with training, collecting, accounting and remitting state sales taxes. One proposal would provide allowance of 3 percent of the tax up to $90 (HF136-Dettmer), and the other would allow the greater of $5 or 1 percent of the retailer's liability for the current remittance period with no cap (HF69-Davids).
On Thursday, the Committee heard two proposals (HF61-Anderson & HF258-Peterson) to bring back the refundability aspect of the Research & Development Tax Credit that was rescinded in the 2013 session. These bills would allow refundability on a portion of the R&D credit to promote reinvestment and growth in the companies that take advantage of the credit. In addition, HF62 (Anderson) prescribes the R&D credit to include sole proprietors in addition to other types of companies.
Rail Safety & Transportation
Both the House and Senate Transportation Committees met on Wednesday to discuss Minnesota railroads and, subsequently, railway safety. Testimony and discussion in the Senate committee focused largely on Minnesota's preparedness in the event of an oil tanker disaster, while the House also discussed other safety concerns such as railcar deterioration and railway/roadway interaction.
Early Childhood Education
The Senate and House education finance committees both heard testimony on HF46/SF6, a proposal to implement universal preschool for four-year-olds across the state. Most notably is the anticipated cost of the bill over the first two years, which amounts to roughly $417 million. No action was taken on either version of the bill, but it will likely be discussed by each committee in the coming weeks.
Governor Dayton will release his budget on Tuesday, January 27. Many committees are scheduling budget presentations from the administration for next week. During two press conferences this week, the Governor indicated his budget will include an expansion of the state’s child and dependent care credit which would provide roughly $100 million in tax relief to roughly 130,000 Minnesota families. The other proposal the Governor announced is a $30 million allocation to the University of Minnesota Medical School.
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