The Legislature was busy with committee hearings in the third week of session, moving bills to meet the first committee deadline scheduled for March 21. The House Tax Committee discussed restructuring or possibly repealing the estate and gift tax changes adopted in 2013 while the Senate Tax Committee reviewed proposals on the modification of sales tax provisions. The Senate Judiciary Committee heard four proposals on economic security measures for women in the workplace and the House Education Policy Committee discussed early childhood learning scholarships.
The House Tax Committee discussed the possibility of modifying or repealing the estate and gift tax changes adopted in 2013. Changes discussed included providing one exemption of $1.5 million for both taxes and modifying rate structures into a unified tax with rates ranging from 10 to 18 percent. HF2014, authored by Representative Sarah Anderson (R-Plymouth), would repeal the gift tax, enacted by the 2013 Legislature, retroactive to its original effective date and the imposition of the estate tax on gifts made within three years of death. Both bills were laid over for possible inclusion in an omnibus tax bill.
The Senate Tax Reform Committee held a hearing on SF1860, authored by Senator Ann Rest (DFL- New Hope), revising the sales tax on purchases and sales to local government units. The bill was laid over for further discussion. The Senate Tax Committee has set a busy schedule next week to deliberate over federal tax conformity with the goal of approving a bill by the end of the week.
Economic Security for Women
On Friday, the Senate Judiciary Committee heard four bills seeking to improve the economic security of women. SF1956, authored by Senator Katie Sieben (DFL- Newport), would modify employment provisions on pregnancy accommodations and parenting leave. SF2006, authored by Senator Melissa Wiklund (DFL- Bloomington), would prohibit employment discrimination based on the status as a family caregiver. SF2105, authored by Senator Sandra Pappas (DFL- St. Paul), seeks to establish earned sick and safe time. SF1806, also authored by Pappas, would require private businesses to obtain a certificate of pay equity compliance as a condition for approval of state contracts and appropriations. These bills were still in committee at the time of publication.
In the House Education Policy Committee, bills were heard addressing various components of early learning scholarships passed last session. HF1880, authored by Representative Ryan Winkler (DFL- Golden Valley), would increase funding for early childhood learning scholarships by $20 million in this biennium. HF2381, authored by Representative Pam Myhra (R-Burnsville) would move the administration of the scholarships to the Office of Early Learning and create an average scholarship amount. HF2558, by Representative Joe Mullery (DFL- Minneapolis), expands access to early childhood learning scholarship funds and childcare funds.
HF826, authored by Senator Scott Dibble (DFL- Minneapolis), known as the Safe and Supportive Schools Act, seeks to eliminate bullying in schools. The bill passed out of the Senate Education Finance Committee after several hours of testimony and discussion.