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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Chris Swedzinski (R)

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News from the Capitol

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Dear Neighbor,

Thank you to all the local folks who made the trek from our region to the Capitol in St. Paul this week to discuss a variety of important issues. Here are just a couple of groups who stopped by my office:

Athletic trainers

Dairy Day at the Capitol

In other news this week:

Effort to help farmers is blocked

A House Republican proposal to allocate $50 million for a depleted loan program which aids farmers was unanimously voted against by the majority and blocked this week.

The Rural Finance Authority loan program runs out of funds on Friday, according the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. We attempted to replenish those funds to eliminate uncertainty for farmers and help them prepare for the upcoming growing season.

What the House majority did by blocking our attempt to bring urgency to this issue is politics at its worst. Farmers are facing extraordinarily difficult economic challenges and a fund to help them is running dry. It is the Legislature’s responsibility to help them, but Democrats chose to throw out roadblocks instead of doing what’s right. The clock is ticking and our farmers can’t afford to wait.

The RFA partners with agricultural lenders to provide low-cost financing to farmers on terms and conditions not otherwise available from other credit sources. The RFA portion of the loan is carried at a reduced interest rate to improve the cash flow of eligible farmers. RFA offer loans within the beginning farmer loan and seller assisted program, agricultural improvement program, debt restructuring program, and livestock expansion programs.

Bills to improve public safety

A package of five proposals aimed at improving public safety in Minnesota communities was rolled out this week. The bills are in response to a rise in violent crime on Metro Transit vehicles and in many parts of the Twin Cities.

Overall, the package targets many of the issues driving crime in the Metro area, including gang and drug trafficking activity, as well as the need for additional officers and tools for law enforcement to combat crime on the light rail lines and in communities.

House Republicans recognize there are serious public safety concerns in Minnesota and we are doing something about it. The heinous crimes we’ve seen – particularly on light rail lines and outside of facilities that host major events – cannot be tolerated. Taxpaying Minnesotans throughout our state deserve better and should be able to visit the amenities they’ve paid for without fearing for their safety. The package of bills we’ve introduced would be a big step in curbing violent crimes that are happening all too frequently.

Proposals include:

  • A bill that would require cities with regional or statewide sports and entertainment facilities to have adequate law enforcement, or risk losing Local Government Aid (LGA) from the state.
  • A bill to boost penalties for gang members who use firearms in commission of a crime. Currently, prosecutors are not pursuing gun charges against criminals who commit crimes using guns because the penalty level is not high enough.
  • A bill to boost funding for the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) for gang and drug trafficking efforts.
  • A bill that would increase enforcement of fare evasion, increase sworn officers for Metro Transit police, and install interactive cameras on light rail platforms.
  • A bill that would prohibit cities from disarming officers in good standing.

Ice, ice, baby!

Hats off to everyone who voted for Marshall in an online contest and helped the city win a free outdoor ice rink from the Minnesota Wild and partners. Marshall (34,168) and Duluth (32,323) finished in the top two spots among eight contest finalists and each city will receive a donated rink. Indications are Marshall will place the rink near the Red Baron Arena and Expo. Construction on the new outdoor sheet reportedly is expected to begin later this winter.

Have a good weekend and look for more news from the Capitol soon.