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St. Paul, Minn. – The I-90 Group, a bipartisan, bicameral coalition of legislators from across southern Minnesota released their legislative priorities for the 2007 session today. Twenty members of the legislative coalition emerged from their meeting with their priorities in hand. Announcing their 2007 priorities were Rep. Jeanne Poppe (D–Austin), Rep. Bob Gunther (R-Fairmont), Sen. David Senjem (R-Rochester) and Sen. Dan Sparks (D–Austin).
These priorities include:
1. Continued support for bioscience initiatives in Southern Minnesota, including the University of Minnesota-Mayo Foundation Partnership; and the establishment of a collaborative Center for Renewable Energy at Minnesota State Mankato.
2. Support for equitable treatment of agricultural lands on the tax base for school bonded debt levies through the enhanced use of debt service equalization revenue.
3. Support for equitable reimbursement rates for rural and low-payment rate long-term care facilities throughout the state.
4. Authorization of the sale of $70 million in state transportation bonds for local bridge replacement and rehabilitation; improvement of local roads with statewide and regional significance; and grants to counties to assist improvement projects on county state-aid highways.
5. Support efforts to ensure that by July 1, 2011 that 60 percent of the revenues from the motor vehicle sales tax must be deposited into the highway user tax distribution fund; 35 percent in the metropolitan area transit fund; and 5 percent into the greater Minnesota transit fund.
6. Support enhanced funding for the Center for Rural Policy and Development to ensure its long-term stability as a resource for rural policy research, data and information.
7. Support the establishment of a Greater Minnesota Business Development Investment Fund, to enhance capitalization of the business development programs of the six Minnesota Initiative Foundations.
8. Directing MnDOT to conduct a study of the needs and status of market roads that are utilized to transport agricultural products to and from biofuels facilities and other significant production facilities in greater Minnesota.
“Various members of the I-90 Group have already introduced, or are currently preparing to introduce legislation in each of these priority areas and we strongly encourage our colleagues to support these legislative efforts,” explained Rep. Jeanne Poppe. Adding to those words Senate Minority Leader David Senjem concluded, “We want our colleagues to examine these initiatives closely, as they will come to the same conclusion that we have – that to have a strong Minnesota, we need a strong rural Minnesota.”
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