Memorial Day is the unofficial kick-off to summer in Minnesota. In normal years, it’s the big weekend where people really come out of hibernation after a long winter. Lakes are packed, patios are crowded, and people begin putting more time and energy into their yards and gardens. After a long pandemic, Minnesotans have come to appreciate these simple activities like never before.
It’s a festive time, but we should never lose sight of why we commemorate this important day.
On this Memorial Day, I will be thinking of the men and women who have given their lives defending the freedoms we cherish. I am both saddened and inspired by the tales of bravery of fallen heroes. Their stories are tragic, but my optimism is strengthened knowing that, generation after generation, America continues to produce so many courageous individuals who are willing to put themselves in harm’s way for their country. Please keep them in your prayers.
If you are interested in learning more about how Memorial Day came to be and why we celebrate, the History Channel put together a fantastic page that is well worth your time.
Special Session prep
In a normal year, Memorial Day would also mark the end of the typical end-of-session chaos. But this is not a normal year. As I wrote last week, Gov. Walz and members of the House refused to give up their insistence on significant tax increases until the very end of the legislative session. Had they done so earlier, it is likely we could have reached a compromise and finished our work on time. Instead, we are in the midst of preparing for an upcoming mid-June special session where we will finish our work.
The end-of-session agreement provided a framework for our state budget, but details of the budgets for each issue area still must be worked out. As the chair of the State Government and Elections Committee, I am working almost around the clock with Senators, Senate staff, and our counterparts in the House of Representatives to put together a complete state government budget that Minnesotans can be proud of.
Tax relief for pandemic assistance
While many budget details are still being worked out, one thing we know will be part of the final agreement is the incredibly important tax relief for federal Paycheck Protection Program loans and pandemic unemployment assistance. Due to a quirk in our laws, this emergency aid was subjected to state taxes, despite the fact that the federal government already exempted these benefits from federal taxes.
Senate Republicans have fought all year to make sure Minnesotans don’t need to pay state taxes on this assistance either. These businesses and workers were put in an impossible position through no fault of their own. They relied on this emergency aid to survive the pandemic and Gov. Walz’s business restrictions, and many of them are still struggling. It is simply wrong to ask them to pay taxes on their emergency assistance, on top of everything else they have endured. I am glad Democrats finally agreed with us.
As the rest of the budget agreement comes together, know that I remain committed to fighting for your needs at the Capitol in any way I can. I encourage you to reach out to my office with any questions, comments, or concerns. My email is Sen.Mary.Kiffmeyer@Senate.MN or you can call me at 651-296-5565.