Enjoyed recently meeting with Carrie Bendix and Diane Halvorson of the Southwest Minnesota Private Industry Council (above) and a group from Students United SMSU (below).
The big news from St. Paul this week is that legislation has been enacted to provide funding for local wastewater projects in Marshall ($7 million) and Wood Lake ($4.7 million). The overall bill totaled $98 million. Those local projects add up to $11.7 million, meaning more than 11 percent is being brought home to District 16A, a good total in a 134-member House.
The $98 million in the bill (H.F. 80) are dollars we converted from bonding projects previously financed by Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources bonds to traditional general obligation bonds. Lawsuits filed by numerous environmental groups challenged the initial funding plan, which received bipartisan legislative support on its way to being enacted by Gov. Mark Dayton in 2018. Minnesota Management & Budget put the projects on indefinite hold pending the outcome of the case.
Marshall is set to receive a $7 million Point Source Implementation Grant from Public Facilities Authority funding in the bill. That is the maximum amount allowed under PSIG and the funds will be used to offset a majority of the $10.1 million in upgrades city officials say are needed to replace aging components that are entering a “critical stage.” Wood Lake is scheduled to receive a $4.7 million in Wastewater Infrastructure Fund dollars from the PFA.
The bottom line is important projects in our state were on hold and some of them are in urgent need of completion. We needed to find a solution to get this work going as the case plays out in court and this was the best way to make that happen. I am pleased that we found resolution so work on these projects can begin to help the people of Marshall, Wood Lake and beyond.
I still believe the original funding source falls within constitutional guidelines, but legislative action was needed now to avoid further delays as the court case unfolds.
Here’s more from this week:
Gov's energy proposal is ill-advised
You may have seen Gov. Tim Walz has unveiled a proposal to move Minnesota to 100-percent clean energy by 2050. In my role as the Republican Lead on the House Energy and Climate Finance and Policy Division, I issued the following statement this week:
“Governor Walz’s extreme energy proposals would cause Minnesotans’ energy bills to skyrocket, force the closure of reliable and cost-effective power plants, and puts Minnesota all-in on technology that simply cannot provide the reliable power you need to keep the lights on and heat your home in the winter. The recent cold-snap showed how important it is to have an energy grid that is reliable and won't falter even during the worst polar vortexes – betting on unproven technology will be expensive and risky for the state.
“Rather than bending to every demand of environmental activist groups by blocking the Line 3 pipeline and backing expensive energy mandates, the governor should embrace a true ‘One Minnesota’ all-of-the-above energy strategy that ensures Minnesotans have energy that is reliable and affordable.”
KSTP-TV interviewed me for a story on this subject earlier this week and you can click here for that video.
A bill was passed on the House floor this week providing what amounts to be a $13 million bailout for the state’s flawed driver’s licensing and registration system (MNLARS).
It’s bad enough that there are no guarantees this extra $13 million in taxpayer dollars will deliver an improved system. The kicker is the bill does not provide any relief to Minnesotans who run the local DMV offices. Those local deputy registrars have been overburdened, overwhelmed and have been subjected to significant public frustration due to problems caused in St. Paul.
House Republicans attempted to provide relief funding to these local DMV registrars. House Democrats rejected that motion, however, a main reason I voted against it. In the end, Democrats sent the bill to the governor for enactment on a party-line vote.
Democrat opposition to funding for DMV offices is becoming a trend. In 2018, the Legislature sent a standalone deputy registrar relief bill to Gov. Dayton’s desk, but the bill was ultimately vetoed. House Democrats sustained the veto during a subsequent override attempt in the House. Funding for deputy registrars also was included in the vetoed supplemental budget bill.