House had had many accomplishments

Minnesota legislators are back at the Capitol and hard at work after our recess to observe the Easter and Passover holidays. As the chair of House Education Policy/Reform Committee I

Rep. Sondra Erickson

look forward to sending major education reforms to the Governor’s desk this week. Some of the accomplishments that have come out of the House so far this session include:

• A proposal that would change the teacher layoff process, a process that local school boards and teachers will design based on three criteria: licensure, performance and seniority. This would allow schools to keep the most effective teachers on staff, not just the ones who have been teaching the longest.

• Another bill that will head to the Governor’s desk would reform how the state will manage permanent school trust lands in order to maximize economic returns for our schools. Income from the school trust lands has been averaging between $22-$27 million annually over the past five years, and managing the income more efficiently could almost immediately increase the yearly figure by ten percent. This could prove to be a very effective way to generate more revenue for our schools without raising taxes.

To date, the main focus for this session has been spurring job growth to improve Minnesota’s economy.  By voting to remove burdensome red tape, lowering taxes and encouraging private sector innovation and expansion, we have aimed to help businesses grow and create more in-state jobs.

• Our permitting reform initiative from this session will help speed up the growth process for Minnesota businesses. This includes providing more permitting options to businesses, allowing job creators to hire outside experts to help them draft permits and removing duplicative reviews. This initiative has already been signed into law by the Governor and will make Minnesota a more competitive state for new and expanding businesses and improve our state’s economic future.

• We have also begun a concentrated effort to reduce and eliminate certain state property taxes. These initiatives would phase out statewide tax on business property over 12 years and also make short-term exemptions for small businesses in tax year 2013.

• We also have voted to provide a permanent tax credit for employers who hire veterans who are disabled, unemployed or receive food stamps.

• We have also authored and passed legislation that would help new and established businesses grow their operations through innovation and expansion incentives. One such measure would help small start-up Minnesota companies access immediate capital to expand without creating a new regulation on banks.

• Another initiative would provide incentives to investors that put money into start-up and emerging companies focused on high or new proprietary technology.

• We have also voted to increase the Research & Development tax credit, encouraging entrepreneurship and innovation.

Rep. Erickson can be reached by phone at (651) 296-6746. She can also be contacted via e-mail at rep.sondra.erickson@house.mn, or via U.S. Mail at 509 State Office Building, St. Paul, MN 55155.

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