In light of the fact that Governor Mark Dayton (D) is unwilling to call a special session, we thought it worthwhile to look at the of the proposed Tax Bill which was vetoed by Dayton and discuss one aspect worth noting.
Specifically, the provisions for reimbursement to owners of agricultural lands of 40% of any increases in taxation from school district levy referendums. This concept was first proposed in the House and brought forward by Rep. Stephen Drazkowski (R-21B, Red Wing) and then rapidly supported by Rep. Paul Markquart (DFL-04B, Dilworth). The specific language can be found originally in HF2987 and was retained in the conference committee report HF848.
Article 2 on page 33 of the bill lays out the provisions.
AIDS AND CREDITS
Section 1. [273.1387] SCHOOL BUILDING BOND AGRICULTURAL CREDIT.
Eligibility. All class 2a, 2b, and 2c property under section 273.13, subdivision 23, other than property consisting of the house, garage, and immediately surrounding one acre of land of an agricultural homestead, is eligible to receive the credit under this section.
Credit amount. For each qualifying property, the school building bond agricultural credit is equal to 40 percent of the property’s eligible net tax capacity multiplied by the school debt tax rate determined under section 275.08, subdivision 1b.
The reason for our interest into this issue is because of its direct appeal to rural communities. Right now DFL House Caucus lacks much in the way of rural representation. If the Iron Range delegation is excluded as a part of the rural MN electorate then Markquart, Reps. Gene Pelowski, Jr (DFL-28A, Winona) and Jeanne Poppe (DFL-27B, Austin) encapsulate the rural vote in the DFL caucus.
The configuration in the DFL House of rural, suburban, and metropolitan votes are dispersed throughout the caucus are integral to the power alignments. If, as we anticipate, the DFL reclaims the House majority, then these different spheres of influence become even more important.
With such a small minority of rural votes, one should be asking why does the DFL need to be seen as standing up rural Minnesota? Currently, it represents a minority of this portion of the state. It’s simple, because the F in DFL stands for Farmer and incumbent members of the DFL includes the members of the Iron Range delegation want more results offset overwhelming influence of the metropolitan and suburban voting blocs within the DFL House Caucus.
Some illogically continue to argue that the loses in the rural communities were due to metropolitan biases in the legislation passed during the 2013-14 legislative sessions. Not the more accurate point, and the fact that midterm elections result in far lower turn out by Democratic voters.
This misguided viewpoint seems to be part of the existing DFL house strategy this election. The DFL House Caucus is spending more time trying to recapture what was lost in 2014 rather than focusing on the opportunities available this year due to the Donald Trump candidacy. We believe there are more opportunities exist in the suburban districts which the DFL has failed to hold since the early 1990s. This head in the sand approach may be due to a placation of pittance rural members who do not want to contend with the reality the emerging strength of the suburban voters, and in turn suburban legislators.
The Iron Range and rural Minnesota are expected lose significantly number of legislative seats with the next reapportionment. The current members may merely be trying to what little they have and in turn by electing new members with lower seniority it will be here to contend against colleagues with less experience if it comes to head-to-head showdowns with fellow DFLers or when pitted against incumbent Republicans.
Even had it passed, there are only four school levy referendums on the ballot this election, and the implementation was scheduled for the 2018-19 fiscal year, so few property owners would have been served by this provision, but the fiscal impact is projected to be $87. million.