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State legislative deadline calls for action

ST. PAUL — Friday was the first legislative deadline of the 2019 session, meaning that any bills read in a general House or Senate session must have been approved by a majority vote in their chamber of origin.

Plenty of bills made the deadline and will move forward, and others have died. Here’s an update on some:

Driver’s licenses for all: The Freedom to Drive Act is a push to allow all Minnesotans to apply for driver’s licenses without needing to prove immigration status. Many in the Worthington community have shown strong support for this legislation. District 22B Rep. Rod Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake, was a co-author of House File 1500. The bill met its deadline and will continue through the committee process.

Local option sales tax: Worthington voters approved in November a half-cent local option sales tax for community amenities. The tax must be approved by the legislature through House File 1485, authored by Hamilton, and Senate File 1616, authored by Bill Weber. Worthington Mayor Mike Kuhle and City Administrator Steve Robinson recently went to St. Paul to testify on behalf of this legislation, which is set to move forward.

Funding for District 518: After the failure of its latest referendum, Worthington Independent School District 518 began looking for alternative solutions to its space issues. Hamilton wrote a bill requesting a state grant to help finance construction. The bill has not yet been heard by the Capital Investment Division, but that committee is exempt from the deadline. HF 1832 will continue through the committee process.

FMLA: House File 5 seeks to expand Minnesota’s Family and Medical Leave Act to double the amount of leave time entitled to parents with new children. The bill met the deadline and is next set to be heard in committee on Tuesday.

Ag license plates: Hamilton supported a bill that would authorize a special Minnesota license plate for funding FFA and 4-H programs across the state. It received committee support and will continue this session.

Tax conformity: District 22A Rep. Joe Schomacker, R-Luverne, co-authored House File 235, which proposed to bring Minnesota’s tax law into conformity with IRS section 179 requirements. Although the bill has not yet been heard by the Taxes Committee, the Taxes Committee is exempt from the legislative deadline. The bill will move forward.

Medical cannabis: Although Hamilton supports medical cannabis, he also believes its manufacturing, sale and use should be regulated. He was the second author on House File 766 this session. The bill was last set to be heard by the Health and Human Services Finance Division, on which both Hamilton and Schomacker sit, but it never made the agenda. It will not be considered this session.

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