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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Bud Nornes (R)

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KEY LOCAL BILLS WERE APPROVED IN 2006

Friday, July 14, 2006
The 2006 Legislative Session was a highly successful one. I authored 11 pieces of legislation, and many of them were either approved by the Minnesota House of Representatives or signed into law by Gov. Pawlenty. Minnesotans will benefit from the new laws I authored. The first brings back the Minnesota Boxing Commission (HF3624). The commission was abolished by former Gov. Jesse Ventura for budgetary reasons. The commission is responsible for coordinating and monitoring all professional and amateur boxing cards. One of its primary goals is to ensure the safety of its participants, as well as ensuring the ethics of the sport. Commissions historically conduct medical examinations prior to each bout, and require medical staff at every match. The primary purpose of the session was to approve a Capital Investment package, which we did. It included funds for the Prairie Wetlands Environmental Learning Center in Fergus Falls and for the Fergus Falls Veterans Home. HF3103 requested funds for improvements to the Veterans Home, which received $637,000. The project would provide an additional 21 special care beds; it would improve clinical space for No. 1 diagnosis; it would improve patient physical environments; and meet the demand for services, particularly the needs of its Alzheimer and dementia residents who comprise nearly 59 percent of its population. The project qualifies for the State Home Construction Grant program administered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, so the VA will pay or reimburse about 65 percent of the project’s cost. The learning center will be receiving $2 million for an expansion project. The Capital Investment package also appropriates funds to the Minnesota State Community and Technical College in Fergus Falls for roof replacement, installation of ADA-compliant features and other improvements. Finally, the bonding bill features a provision to pay off the remaining loan of $447,610 on behalf of the city of Fergus Falls to fund the waste incinerator and steam heating facility at its regional treatment center. However, the provision is only available upon the completion of the final master plan agreement as approved by the city, the Minnesota Department of Administration and the Department of Human Services. Up to $400,000 of that may be used as a grant to the city to demolish the city’s waste-to-energy incineration plant located at the regional treatment center. It also designates $5 million to demolish and redevelop the regional treatment center. Another piece of my legislation signed into law was HF2854, which provided an exception to the hospital construction and modification moratorium by allowing an increase in bed capacity for the Fergus Falls hospital. Under the proposal the bed capacity at the Fergus Falls Hospital would increase from 108 to 110 by increasing the rehabilitation bed capacity from 14 to 16, and by closing a separately licensed 13-bed skilled nursing facility. Finally, there was HF3373, which would modify the child care assistance program subsidy restrictions by requiring the commissioner to determine a maximum rate for school-age care on a half-day basis and modifying the absent day limitations. It was included in the Jobs and Economic Development Omnibus package. I’m also proud of my bills that were not signed into law this session. The main one (HF3517) requested state funds to treat the city of Elizabeth’s drinking water. The city had learned that its drinking water contained some impurities. As your representative, I will work hard to approve legislation important to you and all Minnesotans. I will enjoy the remainder of the summer, but I look forward to returning next year to continue the good fight. As always, I welcome your comments or suggestions. Please contact me through my St. Paul office at 1-800-336-8017 or e-mail me at rep.bud.nornes@house.mn.
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