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Minnesota Legislature

Legislative News and Views - Rep. John Petersburg (R)

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COMMITTEE WORK TAKING CENTER STAGE AT LEGISLATURE

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Many folks I run into ask what we’re doing at the State Capitol these days.  The answer is a lot or a little, depending on what your perspective is regarding legislative work.

 

If you’re solely interested in bills that are coming off the floor and being sent on to the governor, the answer is very little.  To date, we’ve only had a handful of bills that have been approved by both bodies, and most of those have been non-controversial.

 

The reason why House floor activity has been minimal is because dozens, if not hundreds of bills are going through the committee process. Needless to say, in this area we are extremely busy.

 

Committee work is basically the nuts-and-bolts portion of session. Experts are brought in to testify for or against the proposal, which typically leads to more questions from lawmakers as they determine whether or not to amend the bill before the committee holds a vote to approve it.

 

These proposals are often heard in more than one committee.  In some cases, depending on what it is and who it impacts, it could possibly go through several hearings before reaching the House floor.

 

We’re now gearing up for our first committee deadline a month from now, and we will soon begin to hold additional meetings. The deadlines are established in order to winnow the list of topics to be dealt with that year, so many more proposals are now coming forward.

 

It’s important for us to stay as transparent as we can with the public as we move forward on various pieces of legislation. Right now, the work being performed at the State Capitol is not flashy, but necessary, and the process is working,

 

Recently the House approved legislation that allocates funds for the Rural Finance Authority (RFA) loan program. 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.

 

Basically, there was no money left in RFA, which is why we agreed to provide $35 million in bond proceeds to assist with RFA loans in the beginning farmer loan and seller assisted program, agricultural improvement program, debt restructuring program, and livestock expansion programs.

 

RFA is very beneficial for farmers, especially beginning farmers, who want to reprioritize some of their spending. More than 20 farmers is Steele and Waseca counties are currently utilizing this program, so I’m happy the House has taken action. The bill now travels to the Minnesota Senate for further debate.