ST. PAUL – State Representative Paul Torkelson (R-Nelson Township) said he is pleased that
Republican members of the Minnesota Senate and House have formed the Minnesota Legislature's Rural Caucus. The group, composed of Republican lawmakers, seeks to highlight important issues that impact Greater Minnesota.
“To be successful in rural Minnesota, we have to build on what’s already here,” Torkelson said. “We need to encourage our businesses to stay, and if they want to expand to make sure it happens in our area. By forming this caucus and combining our interests, we can work towards keeping companies at home and bringing new jobs to rural Minnesota.”
Torkelson said the caucus has already held meetings with State Demographer Tom Gillaspy and former state representative Brad Finstad – who currently serves as the Executive Director for the Center for Rural Policy and Development - about demographic changes in rural Minnesota and issues of rural interest for the next 20 years. Specific issues included effects of an aging rural population, a slowing growth of the labor force, rural health care, per pupil aid and worldwide trends related to agriculture demand.
“As rural lawmakers, we have to look at the big picture,” Toreklson said. “Without jobs, we cannot keep young people living in rural Minnesota, and without young people, where is our future? The decisions we make at the state level will impact rural Minnesota for years to come, so it’s important that our caucus take positive steps towards improving our schools, nursing homes, medical facilities and overall job climate.”
Torkelson said the caucus is meeting weekly with state leaders and experts in order to gather feedback.