The 2013 legislative session came to a close today with the passage of the final conference committee reports. The most controversial and time consuming of the remaining budget bills was the final agreement on the tax bill. The House and Senate DFL, along with Governor Dayton all proposed a variety of new tax increases and policy and it required significant negotiations to work out all the differences.
In the end, the bill came back from conference with significant changes from the original proposal put forward by the Senate DFL. The proposal to increase the sales tax to clothing, services, and some good was dropped from the bill, as was a proposed new tax rate for families making $140,000 or individuals making just over $79,000. A House proposal to increase the alcohol tax was also not included in the final bill.
Congresswoman Michele Bachmann will host a cybersecurity seminar, “Safeguarding U.S. Technology and Information in an Era of Globalization”, on Tuesday, May 28th from 9:00am - 12:00pm at the Stearns History Museum. The seminar will feature agents from the FBI Minneapolis Field Office and is for business owners, government officials, and others who are looking to learn more about cyber crime and ways to best protect themselves and their business online.
According to Symantec’s 2011 State of Security report, 71 percent of companies experienced some form of cyber attack in that year and, on the consumer side, the 2012 Norton Cybercrime Report estimates that globally, there are 18 victims of cyber crime per second.
It’s crunch time at the Capitol and the week has been filled with long days on the Senate floor considering a variety of spending bills and other policy changes. DFL leadership in the House and Senate reached a final budget agreement with Governor Dayton on Sunday night.
However, late last night, the Governor and DFL leadership emerged with a second overall agreement which was slightly different from the original. The major sticking point continues to be the tax bill which will ultimately fund the budget. Still under consideration prior to last night’s budget accord were new taxes on alcohol, tobacco, a sales tax on clothing, new income taxes on some high earners, and a $.5 gas tax increase.
Valley Daze is still happening, but it will be different this year. The parade has been cancelled because it was expected that State Street would be fully under construction by that time in June. It’s looking more and more like that won’t be the case. The city engineer, Kent Louwagie from Bolton & Menk explained that they expected full review and approval to take two months, with the application being submitted in early March. It’s taken two months, though, just to get through district review. The project is now at MnDOT being reviewed now. Louwagie expects it to take 1-2 weeks before they get a bid-letting date. Mid- to late-June is the earliest, he feels, that the city can open bids for the project. Concern was raised about what type of bids the city would receive so late in the season, and whether the entire project can be done in one construction season (as intended). Louwagie believes it can be completed yet this year, and that receiving good bids should not be a problem.
Swimming lesson sign-ups were held May 4, and everything is being prepared to start lessons June 10. A crack in the south wall of the pool is being repaired now, with more permanent repairs being scheduled for the fall. A pork chop feed has been scheduled for June 8 to raise funds for the pool, which each year operates at a deficit of $30-35,000. The plan is to sell family discounted season passes that night only for $150 residents, $175 non-residents. (Regular price for season passes is $175 residents, $200 non-residents.)
There is a water problem on the south side of Village Hall where the city plans to install a new ramp. Water gets into the basement. Water also gets behind the bricks near the roofline, so tuckpointing and repairs will need to be done there as well. And the 50-year-old shingles are due for replacement. There may be grant money available for some of these projects, even if the building is not put on the historical register.