By Dawn Weitzel, Chamber President

The 2019 Minnesota Legislative session ended in late May. While you’re probably aware of the hands-free cell phone bill that goes into effect on August 1, you may have missed some other important decisions this year.

A big thanks to Representative Bob Vogel for sharing these highlights with us.

First Income Tax Rate Cut in 20 Years: This tax bill lowers the second-tier rate from 7.05 percent to 6.8 percent beginning in 2019 – which allows for increased income to many Minnesotans. The historic rate reduction, along with federal conformity, means more money in people’s pockets and fewer headaches next tax season.

Extending Reinsurance: The final budget agreement extends reinsurance for two years. This decision continues a program that has proven to lower health care costs for families and has become a national model of success.

Cracking Down on Fraud: The final HHS bill included provisions to crack down on fraud in the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP). The proposal included stricter reporting requirements, stronger oversight, and a case-tracking system at the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to help track fraud cases. While there’s still more work to do, this is a first step to restoring integrity in CCAP and other public programs.

Hands-free Cell Phone Law: Beginning August 1, it will be illegal to have a cell phone in your hand while driving. The Minnesota House approved hands-free legislation crafted by a joint House/Senate conference committee, and Governor Walz signed it into law. This legislation allows for voice-activated cell phone use, along with one-touch or headsets. Statistics show hands-free laws keep more focus on the road and decreases fatalities.

No Nursing Home Cuts: We won’t be seeing a proposed $68M reduction to nursing homes. These cuts would have devastated budgets for nursing facilities and negatively impacted care for aging Minnesotans.

No Gas Tax: All proposed transportation tax increases were defeated, including a new metro-wide sales tax, increased license plate fees, increased sales tax on vehicle sales, and a 70 percent increase to the gas tax.
[Rep. Vogel serves on the Labor, Government Operations, State Government Finance Division, and Ways and Means committees. You can share your thoughts on issues that are important to you by scheduling a time to meet with him in his office, by calling (651) 296-7065, or by emailing [email protected]]