By State Rep. Dean Urdahl
Five bills which I authored received legislative hearings recently and all of them remain in the mix to be adopted this year.
The biggest news could be in the drive to acquire more funding for the livestock investment grant program I successfully authored in 2008. The program was extremely popular last year with more than 500 applications and I am working to add as much as $1 million in funds available to help farmers expand and modernize their operations.
The proposal was recommended for possible inclusion as part of a larger agricultural bill. A committee also recommended a bill I authored to study the use of whey in ethanol be considered for inclusion.
Legislation I drafted to provide local businesses with more employee flexibility in order to avoid layoffs also passed one committee and now will appear before the Higher Education Workforce. This bill is especially important in today’s economy because it could help avoid layoffs by eliminating a moratorium on the state’s shared-hours program.
State law currently allows workers to voluntarily reduce their own hours, allowing employers flexibility in shifting hours to fellow workers who may have otherwise been laid off. The state mandates a six-month moratorium on sharing hours, however, creating a hole in the program. My bill would eliminate that gap.
Another bill I’ve presented would provide some consistency and practicality in our traffic laws. Currently, speeding tickets for driving 56-65 mph in a 55-mph zone do not go on a driver’s permanent record. My bill creates consistency by applying the same 10-mph cushion to 60-mph zones, changing the 65-mph threshold to 70 mph. The bill passed the House 102-29 last year but was lost in a conference committee.
The Little Crow Transitway study I’ve proposed also advanced. The essence of the bill is to determine what should be done – if anything – to reduce pressure on the Hwy. 12 corridor.
Dean Urdahl represents District 18B in the Minnesota House of Representatives. The district includes most of Meeker County and a portion of Wright County. This is Urdahl’s fourth term in the Legislature after being elected in 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008.