Just when you thought spring had finally sprung, mother nature snaps us back to reality, dumping more than a foot of snow in some parts of Minnesota. I sincerely hope last night's storm was the last of it. 50 degree temperatures return in the middle of next week, so here's to hoping for a quick melt so we can finally put this miserable winter behind us.
This week I have been involved in three efforts to improve legislation on the house floor, and I am proud of the bi-partisan support I have received.
First of all, I worked closely with Rep. Roger Erickson on a broadband mapping bill that was accepted into HF 3172. This bill authorizes an independent organization to collect and map our state broad band speeds so that we can continue to serve the areas of most need. I successfully worked in a bi-partisan effort to protect the privacy of the broadband providers and to make sure there was no duplication of services.
Secondly, I offered an amendment to HF 3167 that would increase tax credits for 1st generation college students on their college loans. While the amendment failed, I still will keep working to help students who make the decision to improve their lives by pursuing a college degree.
Senate Office Building moves on
Last session, I voted against the tax bill for a number of reasons, not the least of which was a $2.1 billion dollar tax increase. Also tucked in to the final tax bill was a $90 million dollar Senate Office Complex. I've heard a number of complaints about this provision. People just don't think we should be spending tens of millions of tax dollars on a building for politicians. I couldn't agree more.
The Capitol renovation will displace about 13 Senators once complete. But that's no reason to build a brand new $90 million building. The House Rules Committee has spent the past few months exploring alternative options, and apparently determined that a new building was the most sensible option. Today they voted on an alternative version, passing it despite bipartisan opposition on a 14-13 vote. The overall cost remains about the same, but puts all 67 Senators under one roof (the original design included offices for just 44 Senators) and eliminates a public parking ramp.
It's disappointing to me that rather than putting this money toward education, nursing homes, or filling potholes on Minnesota roads, we're building a new Senate Office Building. This is not something Minnesotans asked for, and not somethings Minnesotans are happy that the government is spending money on. House Republicans voted unanimously against this on the floor, and unanimously against this plan in Rules Committee.
As always, I hope you'll keep in touch and send me your thoughts, comments, and questions. My door is open, and I enjoy hearing from you. You can reach my office by phone at 651-296-4247, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a great weekend,