Legislative Update: Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen
The Minnesota Senate and House took a brief pause from meetings on Wednesday as many of us traveled to Granite Falls to attend services for state Sen. Gary Kubly, who passed away March 2. The lawmaker and Lutheran minister served in both chambers and was remembered not just for his public service, but also for his soft-spoken personality and sense of humor.
Protecting Lakes and Rivers
Aquatic invasive species that are invading Minnesota's rivers and lakes will be the target of study at a proposed cooperative research center at the University of Minnesota. Administered by the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resources Sciences (CFANS), the center's objective would be to develop and implement new technologies to permanently control and eliminate aquatic invasive species in Minnesota.
These prevention methods and objectives include developing screening tools to accurately and rapidly determine the presence of invasive species, to study their movement and how to eradicate them, and serve as a state-of-the art source of information on the biology of invasive species.
Permit Streamlining Bill Passed
The Minnesota Senate gave strong bipartisan support Thursday to an environmental review and permitting efficiency bill, the second phase of a process that streamlines permitting and creates a better business climate for jobs in our state. The measure continues to streamline the permitting process, removes duplicate services, and reforms government so it moves at the 'speed of 21st Century commerce.'
Last session, the Legislature worked with the Governor to pass a law that would to streamline permit processing for new projects subject to approval by the Pollution Control Agency and the Department of Natural Resources. HF1 established a 150-day goal for commercial/industrial permit decisions. SF1567 is a next step, further streamlining the process and potentially clarifying points of contention that Minnesota businesses have identified.
The measure contains clarifying language from a provision passed last year that dealt with notification on whether permit applications are "substantially complete" and allows DNR permit holders who have a permit or have applied for a permit to continue to operate during a suspension of government services as long as they abide by all rules and regulations in the permit. It also amends the language for conservation rate structures in local water supply plans, changes the state disposal system (SDS) permits for feedlots from 5 to 10 years, and contains the 150-day goal clarifying language.
Tax Breaks for Veterans
The Senate Tax Committee heard a bill this week that would broaden the veterans' income tax credit, eventually phasing out the income limit. Since tax year 2009, Minnesota has provided a $750 individual income tax credit to certain military retirees for their past military service. Current law fully phases out this credit at $37,500, but this legislation gives the credit regardless of income. The committee is holding the bill for possible inclusion in an omnibus bill later this session.
Thanks for taking the time to read my update and please feel free to contact me with your questions and comments.