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State Representative Anna Wills

491 State Office BuildingState Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
651-296-4306

For more information contact: Andrew Wagner 651-296-2809

Posted: Jun 13 2015 12:00AM
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LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

Special Session update 06-13-2015


Dear Friends,

Thursday night Governor Dayton called a special session, and today the legislature convened in Saint Paul to wrap up work on the 2016-2017 budget. The session continued into the early morning hours Saturday, and we passed our final bill about an hour ago. I am disappointed that the Governor forced this special session by vetoing bipartisan budget bills, but am glad we were able to finally finish up our work today and provide certainty to the 9,000+ state workers who would have been affected by a government shutdown.

We passed a total of six bills: the Education bill, the Agriculture and Environment Bill, the Jobs and Energy bill, a small bonding bill, the Legacy bill, and a technical corrections bill to make minor fixes to previously-passed legislation.


Some highlights:

Education
-$525 million in new funding for Minnesota schools and early learning programs for a total of $1.4 billion in additional spending compared to 2014-2015.
-This bill will mean $331 in increased per-pupil funding for schools in District 196 Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan.
-Important reforms to make it easier for qualified out-of-state teachers to come to Minnesota. This should help us continue to address our teacher shortage.
-Reductions in state-mandated testing.
-Some of the bills I worked on that were included in the final bill include:

  • HF964 - Implementing recommendations from the Office of the Legislative Auditor regarding Special Education to help reduce paperwork.

  • HF567 - Increased flexibility for schools in using their compensatory funding.

  • HF568 - $3.5 million increase for Reading Corps, a program that has a proven track record of improving reading skills and learning, especially for at-risk students.


Jobs and Energy
-Unemployment assistance for poultry workers impacted by avian flu and steelworkers impacted by layoffs on the Iron Range.
-Job training to help train Minnesotans for highly skilled, better-paying job openings.
-Funding for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) student internships.
-Reduces spending overall compared to 2014-2015.

Environment and Agriculture
-Funding for agencies fighting avian flu.
-Streamlining onerous permitting regulations while still respecting the need for proper environmental review.
-Funding for the Minnesota Zoo, which is a state agency and a treasure in our community.
-Reduces spending overall compared to 2014-2015.

Bonding
The House passed a small bonding bill for public works and infrastructure projects across the state. It included $140 million in trunk highway bonds for roads and bridges, and additional funding for specific important road and bridge projects. As the chief author of the bill to fund the Transportation and Emerging Technologies Renovation project at Dakota County Technical College in Rosemount, I'm pleased that $7.73 million was included in the bonding bill to complete this important project, which is one of the top MNSCU Capital Investment priorities. It will help attract more students to DCTC and create temporary construction jobs in our community.

Legacy
The Legacy bill dedicates funding from the Legacy Amendment sales tax that was approved by voters in 2008 and funds a variety of programs in the areas of arts and cultural heritage as well as clean water and preserving our natural resources. Here in our district, the bill includes funding for the Minnesota Zoo. The Legacy bill passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support.

IN THE COMMUNITY:

Zoo Director Heading to Houston
Today Minnesota Zoo Director and President Lee Ehmke announced his resignation and that he has accepted a job as the President and Chief Executive of the Houston Zoo. Lee has been an amazing leader for the Zoo during his tenure and will be greatly missed by the Zoo and our community. I wish Lee the best as he transitions to this new role. You can read more about Lee's move by clicking here.

Chamber Coffee Connections
On Tuesday, June 2nd, I attended the Apple Valley Chamber Coffee Connection hosted by IMAX theater and the Dakota County Regional Chamber Coffee Break hosted by CF Industries in Rosemount. It was great to visit with local business leaders and get a tour of CF Industries by Manager Scott Dohmen.

Meeting with District 196 Legislative Advisory Council
On Wednesday, June 3rd, I joined many of my Dakota County colleagues to discuss education issues and how they impact District 196. Many school district officials I've talked to are pleased that we were able to add money on the formula and that we increased flexibility for school districts in how they use their compensatory funding, a bill I worked on during this session and was glad to see passed today.

Cambrian Commons Groundbreaking
On Thursday, June 11th, I attended the groundbreaking ceremony for Cambrian Commons, a new senior living facility in Rosemount. With an increasing senior population in Rosemount, it's good to see this facility open in our district that will help more of our aging loved ones stay closer to their families.

Please email me with any comments or questions on these or any of the other bills that have passed. Reach me any time by email at rep.anna.wills@house.mn or call 651-296-4306.

Have a great weekend,

Anna Wills
State Representative, District 57B

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