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Viewpoint: Ease growing tax burden this session

Rep. Keith Franke, R- St. Paul Park

When our state has a large budget, it's time to look for ways to provide tax relief for hardworking Minnesotans. It's been years since we've seen sustainable tax relief, but I believe this session is a chance to ease this growing burden, especially for the middle class, military veterans and senior citizens.

As I wrote in my last update, we've already passed a middle class tax relief bill and the governor signed it into law. While that's a great first step, I'm eager to look for other places to institute common-sense fixes that will aid residents throughout the state.

Recently introduced my first bill, House File 270. This legislation would give local businesses a tax credit if they hired military veterans. As a small-business owner, I think this is a great way to incentivize job creators to give our military heroes a helping hand. The transition back to civilian life can be difficult, and we have to do what we can to make it easier for our men and women in uniform to find employment once they leave the service.

Much of my family served in the military, and I enjoy interacting and listening to veterans at the local American Legion and VFW posts, and see a need to provide this business tax credit. I'm excited to see this sentiment crossing party lines. My bill is co-sponsored by five other Republicans and four Democrats. With this type of bipartisan support, I'm hopeful to get this bill moving in the committee process so we can help Minnesota's veterans.

Along with my tax credit legislation, I'm co-authoring a bill, HF213, to exempt Social Security income from state taxes. There's just a handful of states that still tax Social Security, and I've heard from a number of senior citizens who question why Minnesota insists on placing this unnecessary burden on our aging population. Those on a fixed income can't afford this tax, and we can significantly help our seniors by passing this legislation.

Through the first few weeks of the legislative session, we're making strides in important areas. We've passed health care reform and relief, and are working on more ways to provide tax relief. I'm always open to suggestions, and would love to hear any ideas of ways to improve our area and our state. I can always be reached at 651-296-4342 or rep.keith.franke@house.mn. Also, local residents can sign up for my email update at www.house.mn/54a.

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