While I do my best to write these updates in an objective fashion, I think you will quickly get a sense for what I like and what I don't, relative to the hot topics at the legislature right now.
STADIUM HORSE-TRADING. The stadium vote was set for Saturday at 3pm. Then suddenly it was off, reportedly because the Speaker of the House wanted to put it on hold as a way to pressure legislators and the governor to support other, unrelated bills. I really hope that report isn't true. Regardless of how you feel about a stadium, I'd be interested to hear what you think of this sort of legislative vote-trading. Weigh in by posting comments here, taking my survey at www.JoeAtkins.com, or go to www.facebook.com/State.Rep.Joe.Atkins to read my comments as well as what others have to say.
FIREWORKS BILL VETOED. Gov. Dayton vetoed the fireworks bills, citing safety concerns raised by firefighters, emergency room physicians, eye surgeons and other groups.
BIPARTISAN LAW HELPS DISABLED, ELDERLY. The governor signed a bipartisan bill that provides $18 million in funding for some of the essential health services that were cut as a part of the 2011 budget compromise. This bill contains many important provisions, including: 1) delaying the Personal Care Attendant relative rate reduction; 2) restoring funding for this biennium for the Emergency Medical Assistance program, providing dialysis and cancer treatment for some of the sickest people living in Minnesota; and 3) allowing people with disabilities to stay in the work force past age 65, if they choose, and continue receiving Medicaid. The $18 million to funding comes from savings in other areas.
PROPERTY TAX RELIEF. The folks in charge of the House and Senate keep talking about property tax relief for businesses. While I'd like to see that, I want to talk about property tax relief for homeowners, too. Property taxes across Minnesota are out of control.
SENATE IS OFFICIALLY BROKE AT MIDNIGHT. No kidding. Due to poor budgeting and overspending, the Minnesota Senate will reportedly run out of money to operate at midnight tonight. I have never heard of anything like this happening before.
MYSTIC LAKE AND CANTERBURY REACH A DEAL. Under a 10-year, multi-million dollar agreement reached between the Shakopee Band of Mdewakanton Sioux and Canterbury Park officials, Canterbury would get more poker table and higher limits, plus millions of dollars for race purses each year from the Shakopee Band's Mystic Lake casino, in exchange for there being no slot machines at Canterbury. Parts of the deal would require legislative approval.
SCOOPS FOR TROOPS. I accidentally made the news when I volunteered with WCCO's Laura Casey yesterday to raise money for the Fallen Heroes Children's Education Fund. A friend sent me the video below, which he titled, "Where's Waldo?" He thinks he's pretty funny. http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/video?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=7080783
As always, I appreciate comments, questions, and concerns. This time of year, I don't always have time to respond right away, but I really do read every email myself. I can be reached at Rep.Joe.Atkins@house.mn or at the Capitol at 296-4192.