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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Tama Theis (R)

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Capitol Update from Rep. Tama Theis

Friday, February 17, 2017

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With constituents Angel Hirdler, Taylor Lowe, Ruby Hirdler, Hannah Spadgenski, Ally Kurth, Audrey Hirdler, Bekah Phifer, and Nancy Spadgenski who came to Saint Paul to discuss education.

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With folks from Independent Lifestyles at the Capitol this week.

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With constituent and former Lt. Governor Joanne Benson

Dear Neighbors,

Here is an update from Saint Paul.

Local Bills

This session, I’ve introduced bills that will fund local projects in our area.

House File 1319 appropriates $6 million for the Heatherwood Road project which would construct an extension to Clearwater Road in Saint Cloud.

House File 450 appropriates $5 million from DEED for a grant to the city of Waite Park to design, construct, furnish and equip a public amphitheater in the community. The amphitheater would be built in park land down off Parkway Drive and 17th Avenue South.

These are important local projects for our community, and I will be advocating for them this biennium.

Independent Lifestyles Bill

This session, I am carrying legislation to provide funding for the Minnesota Association of Centers for Independent Living (MACIL) which does great works for folks across the state. This non-profit supports Minnesotans with disabilities and helps them live independently.

The bill would appropriate a little over $3 million for both fiscal years 2018 and 2019 for MACIL centers, as well as $1 million for Resource Inc. to provide low-income individuals career education and job skills training.

Helping more folks live independently and find employment is so important, and also saves our state money in the long-term. I am glad to have bipartisan support on this legislation which passed out of the Jobs Committee and was sent onto Ways and Means.

House File 792

A bipartisan bill I authored has moved through both the Commerce and Regulatory Reform, and Job Growth and Energy Affordability Policy and Finance committees recently. House File 792 changes the definition of townhouse in the state building code from two or more attached units to three or more. Doing this will ensure our state is up to code, allow for two unit buildings to be treated the same as a single-family home, and exempt two-unit residences from the sprinkler mandate.

Sherco Bill

Last week, the House passed legislation to facilitate the building of a natural-gas fired power plant in Becker, replacing two coal-fired units that are slated to shut down. This is an important piece of legislation that will provide good-paying jobs in our area, reduce emissions and also ensure continued energy stability for Central Minnesota.

Governor Dayton has indicated he will sign this legislation if it reaches his desk.

Accountability in the MSFA

News has been swirling around the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA) over the past few weeks. The nonpartisan audit by the Office of the Legislative Auditor released a report last week, finding that the commissioners and executive director violated core ethical principles when giving free stadium tickets and perks to friends and family members. Additionally, they recommended that the legislature exercise greater control of the MSFA going forward.

House Republicans have been advancing legislation to rein in and reform the MSFA to ensure they are being held accountable to the taxpayers of our state. That legislation passed through committees this week with strong bipartisan support.

Additionally, we are also looking into millions of dollars’ worth of contracts that were entered into by Chair Michele Kelm-Helgen and executive director Ted Mondale with little to no oversight by their board.

In the wake of these scandals and clear abuse of Minnesota taxpayer dollars, both Kelm-Helgen and Mondale resigned this week.

Ensuring that political appointees, elected officials and government employees are transparent and held accountable to the people we serve is so important. I am pleased we are making real efforts to improve accountability and make much-needed reforms to the MSFA.


If you have ideas, suggestions or concerns about legislation being debated in the House this session, I welcome you to contact my office. Your input is invaluable and helps me better represent the priorities of our community.

It’s an honor to be your voice at the Capitol. Have a wonderful weekend!