Short Session Contributes to Rapid Committee Action
St. Paul, Minn.— During the first full week of the 2016 Legislative Session, Senator Kevin Dahle (DFL-Northfield) testified on behalf of a number or pieces of legislation. The Senator has authored a wide-ranging set of legislation, from education reforms to property tax benefits for rural Minnesotans.
A long-time champion of students, Sen. Dahle authored a bill that takes up some of the recommendations of the Legislative Auditor’s report which recommended a streamlining and clarification of government-run teacher licensure rules. “Making sure we get the right teachers in the right classrooms is universally acknowledged as the most important factor in a child’s education,” said Sen. Dahle. The bill makes requirements and policies more consistent within Minnesota laws. Dahle continued, “Ensuring students, teachers, and parents know exactly what the state’s requirements are for different licensures will help cut down on bureaucratic red tape, keep good teachers from leaving the profession, and clarify exactly who has what skills when they apply to teach in a Minnesota classroom.” The bill received bipartisan praise, and is expected to make a reappearance in this year’s Education Omnibus bill.
Another bill, passed out of the Judiciary Committee and onto the Senate floor, would allow counties of any size to become a Community Corrections Act (CCA) county, meaning that they would be able to administer their own parole program for the county. Previously, only counties or groups of counties with a population over 30,000 people were allowed to take advantage of this program. Le Sueur County Administrator Darrell Pettis testified in committee and said that his county would take advantage of the program if it were to be available to them, because it would better serve residents to have the program run locally. Sen. Dahle commented, “This bill gives more options to smaller, rural counties as they consider how best to administer their own parole programs. Expanding parole options also means we may be able to address a statewide overcrowding problem in county jails.”
Sen. Dahle’s efforts to reduce rural property taxes extend beyond the headlines generated by the Senate’s Omnibus Tax bill. One bill, heard this week in the Tax Committee, allows the value of certain barn improvements to be excluded from taxation. It also adds certain barns to the list of structures eligible for the historic structure rehabilitation tax credit. Typically, rehab taking place on older barns would not qualify for the current historic structure rehabilitation credit, but the bill would provide for a Minnesota historic structure rehabilitation credit for certain improvements made to barns located in Minnesota and constructed prior to 1937. “Of course, this isn’t something that affects thousands of people,” noted the Senator, “but it’s one of many small steps we can take to make things easier for farmers in Greater Minnesota, while preserving historic agricultural structures and the rural character of the state’s landscape.” The bill will be considered for inclusion in a larger omnibus bill.
Senator Dahle can be reached for questions or comments about these bills or any part of the legislative process at [email protected] or by phone at (651) 296-1279.