For more information contact: Catherine Thompson 651-296-5499
Neighbors and Friends,
Each week at the Capitol, dozens of issues receive our attention – either in committee or through action on the House floor. We are a few weeks into the legislative session, and the days are filled with diverse legislative ideas and proposals. Read below for an update on some of the issues we’re considering:
I hope you are able to join Sen. John Marty, Rep. John Lesch and me at a Town Hall on Saturday, February 18 from 10-11:30 at the Falcon Heights City Hall. We welcome your input on the issues we’re considering at the Capitol.
Three energy bills were before us on the House floor late last week.
The first bill is strongly opposed by clean energy advocates. It allows Xcel to bypass a review process that is intended to protect ratepayers, ensure public participation and promote smart, cost-effective investments in our energy infrastructure.
The second bill would modify a section in law which governs net metering. Clean energy advocates are opposed to the bill because it could create a powerful disincentive to install solar panels or erect a small wind turbine. The decision by a farmer or homeowner to invest in renewable energy is largely an economic decision. Adding significant costs to a small solar or wind project could be enough to convince the customer not to make the investment.
The third bill terminates the Made in Minnesota solar program. The last few years, solar energy has been booming in the state, in part because of supportive state policies. The Solar Foundation estimates the number of solar-related jobs in Minnesota doubled from 2013-15 to nearly 2,000 jobs, with 410 more in 2016. The Made in Minnesota program is a big part of this growth. Since April 2014, the program has funded 1,045 projects that represent 15MW of generating capacity. There are now five solar panel manufacturers in the state who employ hundreds of workers. Hundreds of additional workers are employed by Minnesota companies that install solar panels.
I voted against all three bills.
Repairing our aging infrastructure is a priority of many at the Capitol and as the lead DFLer on Capital Investment, I’m advocating for an early and robust bonding bill. If the bonding bill is used as a leverage tool at the end of Session, losers are communities that are counting on needed funds to repair and replace important buildings and other assets. I will continue to press for a geographically balanced bonding bill that reaches all corners of Minnesota.
Falcon Heights Elementary School 5th graders made their annual trip to the Capitol. We spent an hour in the House Chamber and, as usual, the students had excellent questions about state government for Sen. Marty and me.
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