I hope your summer is going well and it has been nice to see so many people out enjoying local festivals, parades, fairs, and other events.
Congratulations to all the people and organizations who made the he Otter Tail County fairs in Perham and Fergus Falls successful in recent days/weeks.
On another note, a number of new laws will take effect Aug. 1. One of the most hotly debated changes pertains to data collected by automated license plate readers used by law enforcement agencies. Some data privacy advocates wanted zero retention of that information, while other people would have preferred retention for 90 days or even longer.
The compromise that was enacted requires agencies to destroy ALPR data not related to an active criminal investigation after 60 days. Many other important provisions are included in the full bill. You can find that information and details related to all the new bills at this link.
As for local meetings, I recently attended one pertaining to transportation issues and needs in our part of the state. It was hosted by the District 4 Transportation Advisory Committee and the discussion included an update from MnDOT representatives pertaining to its construction schedule for the next five years. We also discussed subjects such as Safe Routes to School, along with the Complete Streets Program.
Taxes also came up during the meeting. Gov. Mark Dayton and other Democrats proposed raising the gas tax by at least 16 cents per gallon (on top of the 28.5-cent gas tax we already pay) during this year's session, but House Republicans opposed that plan and it stalled. The unfortunate thing is the insistence by some to raise the gas tax ended up blocking a House plan that would have increased road/bridge funding by $7 billion over the next decade without raising taxes. The plan included dedicating existing tax revenue, such as what we already pay when buying auto parts, toward roads and bridges. This is likely to be a key issue when the Legislature reconvenes in 2016.
Please stay in touch as we make our way through the summer and let me know if I can be of assistance in any way.