The first batch of bills from Minnesota Senate Democrats include a health insurance exchange, statewide all-day kindergarten and a minimum wage increase.
There are also bills to make it harder to put constitutional amendments on the ballot and to apply the state sales tax to some clothing. Texts of the bills were posted online today, one day before Thursday's official start of bill introductions. DFL Senate leaders have a news conference scheduled Thursday morning to detail the bills, along with the specific bill authors.
Senate File 1 establishes the Minnesota Insurance Marketplace Act, which is allowed under the federal health care law as way to let consumers shop for policies.
Senate File 2 authorizes funding for voluntary full-day kindergarten.
Senate File 3 increases the minimum wage requirements for large employers to $7.50 an hour, and provides for automatic inflationary increases in the future.
Senate File 4 would require a 3/5 majority vote in both chambers of the Legislature to place constitutional amendment questions on the statewide ballot.
As expected, DFLers are also proposing several ways to increase tax revenue. There's a bill (SF 8) to collect some of the sales taxes currently lost to Internet purchases.
Another bill (SF 9) would expand the sales tax to clothing items above $200.
Yet another bill (SF 10) would eliminate the current tax exemption for companies that operate in foreign countries.
Some good ideas, especially the constitutional amendment. I don't know why we would let a simple majority rule in posing a ballot question.
The imposition of a sales tax on clothing $200 or higher would have little impact for me. I am however disappointed in the fact that the first budget bill of the session is an effort to increase tax revenue through more taxation. The DFL party seems to fail the acknowledge that we need fiscal discipline in our state government. Controlling expenses should be the first concern for our legislators, not an effort to raise taxes. Minnesota did not get hit as hard because of the slow down in the last five years, let us not move to damage it now.