Monday was National Vietnam Veterans Memorial Day
Monday was National Vietnam Veterans Memorial Day. Everyday is an opportunity to honor all Vietnam veterans who served, and to recognize the families that stood alongside them.
There is a very recent, interesting You Tube video where Gary Guggenberger of Cold Spring and the Class of 1965; talks about his capture and his four years of being a prisoner of war in the jungles of South Vietnam and Cambodia. It is two hours long but worth seeing.
See Gary Guggenberger You Tube Video at video.search.yahoo.com.
Community Conversation update
My thanks to all who were able to attend the virtual Community Conversation Friday, March 19.
I recognize changes need to be made to make the Conversation more meaningful and efficient. We want our Community Conversations to be successful and would not be able to do this without constituents voicing their concerns and participating.
Representative O’Driscoll, Rep. Demuth, and I very much appreciated the solid attendance, and we will look to do more of these events in the future.The next Community Conversation is tentatively scheduled for Friday, April 16, stay in touch to learn more about this event.
Grace period for Minnesota tax payers
In following with the IRS, the Minnesota Department of Revenue has announced a grace period for taxpayers filing their annual Minnesota Individual Income Tax return for tax year 2020. Those taxpayers now have until May 17, 2021, to file and make their payments without any penalty or interest.
This grace period does not include individual estimated tax payments.
Up-to-date information will be available on the department’s COVID-19 website at revenue.state.mn.us.
Education bills aimed at helping students, parents, teachers recover from COVID-19
Four bills passed to ensure support for learning losses.
• Senate File 628 – State assessments plan requirement.
Will guarantee that families, teachers, and policymakers have an accurate measure of student regression from COVID-19 by requiring the Department of Education (MDE) to administer statewide MCAs during the spring of 2021, regardless of whether students are participating in distance, hybrid, or in-person learning. MCAs are the state’s only objective, statewide measure of student progress in core academic subjects. The assessments were canceled last year.
• Senate File 438 – Commissioner of education academic standards review cycle suspension.
Allows students, families, teachers, and MDE to focus all of their effort and energy on recovering from COVID-19 by suspending until 2023 the development or implementation of any new state-mandated academic standards.
• Senate File 710 – School district fund transfer flexibility extension.
Grants school districts with the authority, for this school year only, to redirect any reserved or restricted revenue to another purpose. The relaxed restrictions will give school districts more flexibility to manage potential budget pressures.
• Senate File 819 – School district short-call substitute teachers pilot program.
Addresses the shortage of substitute teachers for Minnesota schools by widening the pool of qualified applicants for “short-call” substitute teachers. Teacher shortages have been an issue, particularly for rural communities, even prior to the onset of COVID-19. The gap has been exacerbated by quarantines and other health-related absences, threatening schools’ ability to offer in-
Senator Howe introduces legislation that allows residents and non-residents under 18 to hunt without a license
This session I introduced Senate File 1828 aimed at allowing kids under 18, both residents and non-residents, to take small game or fish without a license, given that they possess a firearms safety certificate.
Many of the surrounding states already allow resident and non-resident kids 16 and under to hunt and fish without a license, and it’s a shame to think that Minnesota’s hunting and fishing license age is causing us to lose families that travel for their annual trips. We want families to establish those traditions here in Minnesota – we want them to come here for their annual hunting and fishing trips in the hope that their children will continue that tradition. Our state has a great environment for hunting and fishing, and we should encourage more families to experience it. This bill is a short-term cost for huge long-term gain.
Current law in Minnesota states that a small-game hunting license is required for all hunters 16 years of age and older, but 14- and 15-year-olds are eligible to hunt small game without a Minnesota hunting license only if they have a valid hunter education certificate. The law also dictates that only residents are able to take fish without a license. If enacted, this law would raise that threshold to 18, and allow non-residents to partake in the same activities.
Some families get their kids hooked on hunting and fishing at a young age, and there’s no reason we shouldn’t be welcoming that business into our state.
Senator Howe introduces PERA legislation extending the time period for purchasing service credit for periods of federally protected military service leave
On Tuesday, I presented Senate File 1993 a bill that extends the time period during which a service member can pay to purchase service credit for a period of military service.
This bill would guarantee that any member returning, regardless of duration of leave, would have three years to pay their equivalent contributions.
This change would allow returning service members more time to adjust to post-leave family and financial circumstances before the deadline for paying for service credit. It substantially expands the enhanced benefit local employers are mandated to pay for interest on the employee contribution share.
Minnesota Council on Economic Education – Economics and Personal Finance
On Monday, Senate File 2042 had its second hearing in the commerce committee. This bill would appropriate $150,000 annually over the next two years to the commissioner of education to provide a grant to the Minnesota Council on Economic Education (MCEE) to support MCEE’s ability to continue delivering a teacher professional development program aligned with the standards, and to increase the number of teachers reached annually.
The Mission of MCEE is to equip all Minnesotans with the economic and financial understanding needed to succeed in today’s complex society.
Senate File 2042 was amended and laid over for possible inclusion in another bill.
Volunteer driver reimbursement
Senate File 1766 is a bill that provides a subtraction for the amount of mileage reimbursements paid by a charitable organization to a volunteer driver. The reimbursement rate for charitable organizations is 14 cents per mile, and the reimbursement rate for businesses is 56 cents per mile. For volunteer drivers, reimbursements above the volunteer driver rate are included in taxable income. The subtraction equals reimbursements received in excess of 14 cents per mile up to the limit for business mileage.
As costs of living continue to rise, this legislation becomes more necessary. Volunteer drivers are already making a financial sacrifice to help transport those in need. In some cases, they are paying higher insurance rates. When this happens, it becomes increasingly difficult for local community agencies to recruit and retain volunteers. Allowing a mileage reimbursement can help minimize that added cost of volunteering.
This bill was laid over for possible inclusion in another bill.
Below is just some of the legislation I have chief-authored so far this session.
• Senate File 2209: Real property tax classification modification relating to solar energy-
• Senate File 2252: Public employees retirement association statewide volunteer firefighter plan state aid authorized allocation revision.
• Senate File 2288: Governor’s peacetime emergency declaration legislative approval requirement for extension beyond 30 days.
Senator Jeff Howe
3235 Minnesota Senate Building
95 University Avenue West
Saint Paul, MN 55155
Tel: (651) 296-2084