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David Bly, We All Do Better
Member of Minnesota House of Representatives District 20B
Updated: 33 min 37 sec ago
The Minnesota House of Representatives passed the Marriage Equality Act last week by a vote of 75 to 59 with bipartisan support.
With House lawmakers already having passed a comprehensive budget and awaiting our conference committees to iron out a final package, it was the right time to bring this bill up for a vote.
I am proud to say I voted in support of this historic bill that gives same-sex couples the freedom to marry the person they love. I’m also proud of legislators on both sides of the issue who participated in a respectful debate.
Same-sex marriage is an issue Minnesotans have weighed for many years, which was reflected in numerous speeches on the House floor. With last November’s constitutional amendment, it’s been a big focus of conversations among faith communities, students, businesses, and Minnesotans from all walks of life over the past two years.
In 2012, nearly 58 percent of voters in our District voted against that constitutional amendment. In 2004, when asked if I would vote for a bill that would allow all Minnesotans to marry the person they love, I said I would.
Treating someone differently based on their sexual orientation does not square with Minnesota values. Thankfully, the bill passed by the House makes sure same-sex couples in our state are treated equally under the law. It’s a huge victory for civil rights and provides same-sex couples with the same protections and benefits enjoyed by me and my wife.
It’s also important to note that with our comprehensive Human Rights Act, the Marriage Equality Act includes the strongest religious protections of any other state that has legalized same-sex marriage. Under the bill, religious organizations are not required to perform marriages they do not support. Those kinds of protections make sure we respect the deeply held beliefs of people who oppose same-sex marriage.
With the Senate expected to vote on the same-sex marriage bill this Monday and Governor Mark Dayton signaling his intent to sign the legislation into law, Minnesota will soon become the 12th state in the country to allow all people to marry the person they love.
If you have any questions or comments about the Marriage Equality Act or the House Energy Policy Omnibus bill, please contact me by phone at (651) 296-0171, by email at email@example.com, or by postal mail at 559 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155.
The Omnibus Energy Bill passed the House last Tuesday. If HF956 becomes law, it would set Minnesota’s first solar energy generation requirement for the state’s utilities at 4 percent by 2025. Renewable energy production for the state would need to be 40 percent by 2030.
The bill as it’s written now, would allow for private citizens to invest in the installation of a solar voltaic device and be ensured that there would be a means to sell unused electricity. If private businesses and homes generate enough solar energy to sell to the utilities on the electrical grid, the bill requires utilities to pay a rate adusted annually by the energy commission.
Movement on the national front is evidenced by the Huffington Post’s article on Renewable Energy Standards in other states. An April 2013 post on the Clean Energy Authority blog describes proposed national legislation making financing solar energy projects similar to financing oil projects , and a number of national news organizations covered Echotech Institute’s announcement that there is tremendous growth in the clean energy jobs sector.
Last week the Minnesota House passed a series of comprehensive bills that invest in priorities like our children’s education and property tax cuts.
To pay for these important investments, we passed our tax bill. It eliminates our $627 million deficit without gimmicks and pays back the remaining $854 million school shift.
The bills we passed make Minnesota’s economy stronger.
Small businesses create jobs when there is demand for their products and services. An ‘all-cuts approach’ to our budget process shrinks demand and does not create an environment conducive to job creation. For example, cuts to local government aid (LGA) and county program aid (CPA) over the past decade caused property taxes to skyrocket by 86 percent.
Those tax hikes fell on the backs of middle class families who then had less money in their pockets to spend at local businesses. Without customers fueling demand by purchasing products and services, companies could not build up the capital necessary to expand their workforce. In fact, the LGA cuts that sparked painful property tax hikes led to less demand, forcing many businesses to lay off workers.
The bills passed by the House this week are designed to increase demand and create jobs by putting more money in the pockets of consumers.
The House DFL tax bill invests $270 million into direct middle class property tax cuts for nearly one million Minnesotans through the Homestead Credit Refund, a retooled renter’s credit, and increased funds to cities and counties. Under the new Homestead Credit Refund, homeowners in Rice County will see an average increase of $203. In addition, Rice County will receive nearly $450,000 more in CPA in 2014 and the city of Northfield will receive over $660,000 more in LGA.
Providing help with property taxes for middle class families reverses the trend of LGA and CPA cuts over the past decade that caused property taxes to skyrocket. It puts more money in consumers’ pockets that will be pumped right back into the economy.
As we all know, nothing comes free. The investments we’re making in areas like property tax cuts cost money. The House DFL plan generates the revenue needed to build a stronger economy in a way that’s fair.
One component of our tax plan raises additional revenue for our investments by increasing the income tax rate to 8.49 percent on the wealthiest 1.1 percent of individuals (taxable income greater than $400,000 per year for joint filers). High income earners have done extremely well coming out of the recession.
Asking those who can afford to pay a little more in income taxes to help improve Minnesota’s economic vitality is a much fairer approach than pushing the cost of the things we need onto the backs of middle class families in higher property taxes. Polling shows a majority of Minnesotans support the House approach.
In the coming weeks when we’ve settled on a final budget, I’ll use my bi-weekly column to outline the investments we’re making, how we’ll pay for them, and the benefits we expect.