For more information contact: Susie Merthan 651-296-2955
We are in the process of passing major budget bills off the House floor and I want to provide an update on our work. I want to thank all of you who have contacted me this session with your input on issues facing our state and encourage you to keep in touch these final weeks of the session with your thoughts and questions.
The House passed bipartisan Jobs and Economic Development legislation Monday, making investments to grow jobs and strengthen our economy into the future. A major part of the bill invests in the Minnesota Investment Fund (MIF), which helps to attract new jobs to the state. MIF offers incentives for businesses to relocate to or expand in Minnesota, and local cities manage these investments. This program has been shown to bring $33 in private investment for every $1 loaned out, and brings together both the public and private sector to improve our economy.
Another key piece of the bill provides businesses with a $350 million tax cut state wide. This cut reduces the rate that employers pay for unemployment insurance by approximately $150.00 per employee, resulting in big gains for Minnesota employers.
As you may have seen in the news, many communities in our state are in drought or facing a water shortage. This has been a highly discussed issue in the Environment Policy Committee, on which I serve. Many communities around the state are running out of groundwater. The city of Worthington is currently paying for water from Iowa. An example closer to home is White Bear Lake, where I’m sure you’ve heard the lake has shrunk 25%. That water shortage is due to well usage, including residential, agricultural and commercial.
This is an issue of increasing importance because the aquifer which supplies water to much of the metropolitan area will be dry in only a few decades at the current rate of use. In our community, we are effectively managing this resource, but we do need to be aware of and responsive to this issue. The House passed the Omnibus Environment, Natural Resources, and Agricultural Finance bill Thursday, which will fund Department of Natural Resources water monitoring wells across the state. These wells will help communities stay on top of this important issue.
Another major component of the Environment Finance bill provides two year funding for the continuation of perfluorochemical (PFC) bio-monitoring. PFCs are a family of chemicals developed by 3M and it is very common to find them in drinking water, food and in nearly everyone’s blood. This monitoring will take place in eastern metropolitan communities where production waste was dumped by 3M to find out whether efforts to reduce drinking water exposure to PFCs have been successful in reducing PFC blood levels in the population.
Community conversations gatherings will be scheduled when session is over. The session calendar is a moving target with daily sessions including evenings and weekends. Planning such a gathering would be subject to cancellations as the House is often called into session with short notice. Community gatherings will be set up when we can reliably plan a meeting.
In the meantime, please send me your questions and comments on these issues. You can also watch our House floor discussions live on your local cable channel or through this House link: http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/htv/mnhouse.asx.
Thank you for the honor of serving our community at the state Capitol.