This past week, a delegation of MTA members visited both Senators’ offices and six of the eight Congressional offices. The group, led by MTA Board Chair Jean Pauk and Vice Chair Steve Katka, also included Mary Ehmke from KM Telecom, Bob Olson from Emily Telephone Coop, and MTA President/CEO Brent Christensen. As more and more telecom issues are being pre-empted by the FCC, the MTA Leadership decided it was time to have a Minnesota-focused trip.
The main message to legislators was the need for USF support for standalone broadband. This is critical while the FCC decides how to move support from the USF to the Connect America Fund for rate of return carriers. The MTA also thanked both Senators, Congressean Nolan and Walz for sending letters to the FCC on the Federal regulatory uncertainty caused by the FCC’s Transformation Order.
By Margaret Anderson Kelliher, Minnesota High Tech Association
We applaud Gov. Dayton for his call to repeal the broadband sales tax enacted last legislative session. The Governor has made broadband access a state priority and the recent call to end the sales tax in light of the state’s $1.08 billion budget surplus would accelerate the deployment of high-speed Internet for all Minnesotans.
Repealing the sales tax and reinstating the previous tax exemption will encourage companies to grow their networks throughout the entire state, especially in underserved and unserved areas. The sales tax exemption works – it allows companies to spend more money in Minnesota, moving our economy forward by expanding the state's broadband network and improving its quality.
Minnesota currently ranks 25th in the country in terms of average broadband connection speed. To move forward and remain competitive, Minnesota must put in place a robust broadband network – to increase connectivity and connection speed.
Simply put, we agree with the Governor that a repeal of this tax would attract private investment in technology and provide a real incentive for companies to invest and build broadband capabilities across the state.
We urge the legislature to heed the Governor’s call and repeal the broadband tax. It’s good policy for our economy and our people.
On December 5, state officials with the Minnesota Management and Budget Office released the November forecast which is used as an indicator for the state’s fiscal health going into 2014. The forecast reflects changes in the current biennium’s general fund revenue as well as expenditures. The forecast indicates a projected balance for fiscal year 2014-15 of $1.086 billion. After the K-12 school shift of $246 million is paid (as current law requires) and an additional $15 million repaid that was borrowed from the state airports fund, the remaining forecast balance is $825 million.
While the November forecast is an indicator that the state’s budget outlook is improving, these budget figures are projections and are subject to change depending on the economy, tax collections, and spending. Another report will be delivered to state officials in February; legislators and Gov. Dayton will use those fiscal numbers as their base to enact any spending or savings changes for the state during the 2014 Legislative Session.
"This is good news for MTA members,” commented MTA President/CEO Brent Christensen, "it means there is enough money in the surplus to repeal the business-to-business taxes, including the new sales tax on telecom equipment that was passed in the last legislative session.”
A copy of the press release from Minnesota Management and Budget on the November Forecast can be found by clicking here.
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Some Minnesota commercial licensed drivers, including school bus, semi-tractor trailer and garbage truck drivers could lose their commercial driving privileges by the end of January if they don’t take action to comply with federal and state regulations.
Approximately 115,000 (46 percent) of Minnesota’s 250,000 Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) holders have not provided self-certification of their commercial driving status and, in some cases, proper medical documentation.
Non-exempt interstate and intrastate drivers must provide a current medical examiner’s certification along with any waivers required to maintain commercial driver status. Exempt interstate and intrastate drivers do not need to provide a medical examiner’s certificate but do need to complete a self-certification form. The deadline to provide all documentation is Jan. 30, 2014.
CDL holders not in compliance on Jan. 30, 2014, will be downgraded to a Class D license, leaving most drivers unable to legally engage in inter- or intrastate commercial driving. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Driver and Vehicle Services Division (DVS) is in the process of sending letters to all CDL holders in Minnesota reminding them to complete their self-certification.
How to Self-Certify
CDL holders need to:
- Check the status of the driver’s license online at http://bit.ly/d3r8zL. If "Self-cert” is not listed, then a Self-Certification form must be submitted.
- Complete the Commercial Driver License Medical Self-Certification Form (PS33203).
- If a CDL driver certifies that he or she is subject to medical examination requirements, he/she must provide a copy of the Medical Examination Report (PS30158) and any required waiver (Insulin-treated diabetes, vision, seizure/loss of consciousness, limb impairment).
- Submit a completed self-certification form and, if applicable, a current medical examiner’s certificate, to DVS via mail, fax or in person to any driver exam station or driver license office.
These forms can be found on the DVS Website at dvs.dps.mn.gov.
Visit the DVS Website at dvs.dps.mn.gov for more information on how to self-certify, for definitions of interstate and intrastate commerce, along with information about medical certification requirements. CDL drivers can also call 651-205-4908.
Hope this helps in answering any questions you have regarding Self-Certification. If you have any other questions feel free to contact the MTA Safety Department at 612-219-4503.
Dan Berg, M.S.
MTA Lead Safety Consultant
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