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Paynesville Press - July 30, 2003

Minnesotans face state fee increases

By Bonnie Jo Hanson

Starting in July, Minnesotans are paying more for their government.

To help reduce the state's $4.6 billion budget deficit, the Minnesota Legislature passed fee increases and created new fees that could raise $400 million for the state over the next two years. The new state fee schedule took effect on July 1.

With Governor Tim Pawlenty and many of the Republican caucus promising not to raise taxes, the state searched for other ways to balance the budget. DFL leaders supported some tax increases, but in the end only fee increases were made.

Fee increases will affect Minnesotans from birth to death, from motorists to homeowners. New and increased fees and state surcharges include the following:

Usage fees

•The annual fee for entering a state park increased from $20 to $25 and daily entrance fees from $4 to $7. Camping fees at state parks were increased from $12 to $15 for a semi-modern site, $8 to $11 for a rustic site, and $9 to $10 for a forest site.

The mid-week half-price special for seniors at Minnesota's parks is gone, and children under six visiting the Como Zoo will now have to pay $3.

•The DNR raised the fee for a deer hunting license from $26 to $27 for adults and from $6.50 to $14 for youth. The youth permit now includes a tag.

•The state's new "conceal and carry" law raises the fee for a handgun permit from $10 to $100.

•The 9-1-1 fee attached to monthly phone bills was raised from 33 to 40.

•Professional tax preparers now have to pay $ 5 to file a state tax form on paper. E-filing is free.

Fines and court fees

•A $25 increase to the state surcharge on fines for traffic and criminal offenses raises the minimum fine for most offenses from $78 to $103. Parking tickets now carry a state surcharge of $3.

•Besides paying higher fines, DUI offenders will now have to pay $680 for driver's license reinstatement, compared to $395 last year.

•The cost of filing a subpoena in court raised from $3 to $12; the fee for filing a will raised from $5 to $20; and the fee for filing an appeal raised from $250 to $500. The state now charges a $25 surcharge for filing for a divorce.

•People who use a public defender will now have to pay a higher co-pay.

Permit and license fees

•License plates for cars were increased from $3 to $4.25; motorcycle plates from $2 to $3; trailer plates from $2 to $3; truck plates from $2 to $3; and disability and specialty plates from $4 to $7.

The license-issuing fee for all-terrain vehicles also was raised from $2 to $3, and the license-issuing fee for boats in Minnesota was raised from $2 to $4.

•Marriage license fees were increased from $20 to $40 for couples that have completed pre-marriage counseling and from $70 to $90 for those who did not get counseling.

•The fee for a Minnesota death certificate increased by at least $10, depending on the type of certificate required.

•The cost of a license for notary publics was raised from $25 to $100, and teacher's license fees were raised from $47 to $57.

Inspection fees

•The inspection fee for dairy processor certification went from 5 to 7 per hundred weight of milk processed.

Dairy farmers who have to be re-inspected will see an increase from $25 to $45 for a second inspection.

•Having an inspection of a septic system will cost homeowners an additional $25.

Health co-pays

•Adults receiving state assistance for medical coverage will now have to pay a 50 percent co-pay for restorative dental work, $25 for eyeglasses, and a $25 co-pay for emergency room visits in non-emergency cases.

•The co-pay for state assisted child care was increased. In some cases, the co-pays were increased to more than double the previous amount. For example, the co-pay for a family of three earning $30,000 per year was increased from $150 per month to over $300 per month.

•Private nursing homes now have to charge a $5.56 daily surcharge to patients that self-pay.

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