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Crookston Times - Crookston, MN
  • Letter to the Editor - Kiel: Thank you to constituents who weighed in on the issues in survey

  • Thank you to everyone who participated in my 2014 legislative survey. Over 1,110 residents of Polk, Pennington, and Red Lake counties participated in the questionnaire, weighing in on major fiscal and social topics debated by the recently-adjourned Minnesota Legislature.
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  •     Thank you to everyone who participated in my 2014 legislative survey. Over 1,110 residents of Polk, Pennington, and Red Lake counties participated in the questionnaire, weighing in on major fiscal and social topics debated by the recently-adjourned Minnesota Legislature.   
        On state budget issues, respondents were evenly split on how to allocate the state’s $1 billion surplus. Tax relief was favored by 45 percent of survey takers, while 46 percent advised saving it in the budget reserve for future deficits and expenses. Less than 10 percent of constituents recommended increasing government spending on projects and programs.   
        Over half of the respondents disagreed with any proposal to increase transportation or transit-related taxes, while nearly a third supported a flat gas tax that would go only toward road and bridge repair—not light rail and bus transit systems in the metro.   
        Three job-crushing business-to-business taxes signed into law last year were repealed. When asked what other taxes from 2013 folks agreed should be undone, a third chose the estate/death tax increase, and in close second was the income tax increase. Others named the wheelage tax increase, the cigarette tax increase, and the rental car tax increase as their top choice for elimination. About 8 percent said no taxes should be repealed.   
        The minimum wage was increased to $9.50 per hour, linked to annual increases in inflation. Opinions varied evenly on the subject. A quarter supported the new law, a quarter wanted it raised to the federal rate ($7.25 per hour), a quarter preferred a compromise rate between $7.25 and $9.50, and a quarter disagreed with an increase.   
        MNsure, Minnesota’s extension of the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), opened in October as an online resource to sell health insurance plans. When it comes the new agency, nearly 45 percent of respondents believe it’s socialized health care and should be repealed. 29 percent think it’s a good start at providing health insurance to those who do not have it, and 26 percent are concerned the state has replaced a nation-leading health system with one that is more expensive.   
        Opinions were clear about new anti-bullying mandates. 92 percent do not approve of the policy that requires new staff and a new government “climate” center estimated to cost schools statewide $40-$50 million every two years.   
        Sunday liquor sales remain illegal, despite proposals to eliminate the ban. Nearly 50 percent of respondents agree with the law as written. 36 percent would support a repeal if cities had the authority to allow or disallow sales, and only 15 percent supported a total repeal.   
    Page 2 of 2 -     As of last year, Minnesota conceal and carry permits are no longer recognized in North Dakota. I authored a reciprocity bill that would have allowed both states to recognize the other’s permit as valid. Nearly 86 percent of respondents favored the effort, but the Legislature did not move forward on Second Amendment legislation.   
        Again, thank you to everyone who took the time to reflect on important issues facing the state.    
        Your feedback helped me better represent the people and priorities of northwest Minnesota when casting my votes.   
        Though the 2014 legislative session has come to a close, I encourage constituents to continue correspondence on matters related to state government. I can be contacted by phone: 651-296-5091, via email: rep.deb.kiel@house.mn, or by mail: 337 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, Minnesota 55155.   
        Have a wonderful and safe summer!

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