Most committee overview hearings are wrapping up this week, and much of the legislature's focus continues to be honed on health care.

On Wednesday, the House Higher Education and Career Readiness Policy and Finance Committee held the second meeting of the session, reviewing data on the use of state and federal financial aid programs and grants, data and trends regarding enrollment, tuition cost and student debt, and broad legislative goals. Both state and nationwide trends. Committee Chair Rep. Nornes said, "If there were a theme of this committee it would be access of choice for students".

Also Wednesday, the House Capital Investment Committee heard an overview from House staffers and an MMB representative. Though indication of whether or not a bonding bill will be introduced this year remains hazy, the November 2016 debt capacity forecast assumes an $800 million capital investment bill for this year.

Wednesday night, the House Ways and Means Committee worked through a power outage and a lengthy discussion that led to the passing of  House File 1, approved on a split voice vote. It was sent to the House Floor where it also passed..

On Thursday, the Senate Higher Finance and Policy meeting was postponed due to the Senate floor session running long. In the floor session, the Senate passed Senate File 1, the companion bill to House File 1, and Senate File 3, the companion bill to House File 2 - the federal tax conformity legislation that the House passed last week.

This morning, Governor Dayton signed House File 2. This new law will provide $21 million in tax relief and bring Minnesota's tax laws in line with federal law. Some of the benefits include:

  • Itemized tax deduction for mortgage insurance premiums
  • $250 tax deduction for teachers’ classroom expenses
  • Elimination of the marriage penalty in the Working Family Tax Credit phase-out
  • Extension of the statute of limitations for certain veterans to collect combat pay
  • Tax relief for individuals facing a short-sale of their home

This legislation passed both the House and Senate without any opposition and is the first bill signed by Governor Dayton during the 2017 Legislative Session.

The legislative offices are closed next week Monday in observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday; committees will resume meetings on Tuesday.