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Rep. Eric Lucero (30B) - April 22 Legislative Update

Friday, April 22, 2016

Meeting with area teachers who visited the Capitol.

Dear Neighbor,

I hope this email finds you well!  Below is a recap of several highlights from the Capitol this week.

TRANSPORTATION PLANS EMERGING

With only four weeks of the legislative session remaining and as a member of the House Transportation Committee, finalizing a roads and bridges transportation funding package without raising taxes is among my top priorities.

The Republican plan we passed in the Transportation Committee and on the House floor last year utilizes taxes Minnesotans are already paying on the purchase of auto parts, auto repairs, vehicle leases, and rental cars and redirects that existing revenue stream away from the state general fund to a special Transportation Stability Fund. Combining that existing revenue with a portion of the $900 million budget surplus and bonding, the Republican plan will fix 15,500 lane miles of roads and 330 bridges statewide.

By contrast, late last week the Senate Democrat majority released their proposal which devotes less than 4-percent of the $900 million surplus to transportation. Additionally, Gov. Dayton and the Senate Democrats continue their demands for a minimum 16-cent gas tax increase (would be the largest gas tax increase in state history) and more wasteful spending on light rail commuter trains.

This week we heard a Democrat-authored bill in the Transportation Committee seeking to fund construction of the Northern Lights Express (NLX) line, a high-speed, intercity, passenger rail project between Minneapolis and Duluth. The NLX line would have an implementation capital cost of $500-$600 million and annual operating costs of $17.5 million.  Also this week, Gov. Dayton’s Metropolitan Council Chair along with U.S. Senator Al Franken reiterated their push for state funding of Southwest Light Rail this session. The estimated cost of the Southwest Rail Line has ballooned by nearly 50 percent from initial estimates of $1.2 billion to recently revised estimates of $1.77 billion. For the amount of money Democrats want to spend on one train in Minneapolis, we could repave six lanes on every interstate in Minnesota, fund four years of Metro Transit bus operations, and make a historic investment in the new small cities road and bridges funding program.

I remain focused on the roads and bridges transportation funding priorities of our community such as the continued three-lane expansion of I-94 to Albertville and the Brockton Interchange on I-94.

COMMERCE DEPARTMENT SUED

An MPR report released a week ago showed a former top Department of Commerce official has sued the state for retaliation, sexual harassment, and other misconduct including alleged destruction of documents "to circumvent state data disclosure laws."

This is the latest example of a systemic problem within the Dayton administration where top agency officials have created a culture of intimidation and retaliation against whistleblowers, and have actively worked to hide key information from the public and lawmakers to advance the interests of political allies and avoid oversight (MPR: Despite warnings, state kept cash flowing to controversial nonprofit)

On Monday, Gov. Dayton was asked about his commissioner and he responded: "Yes, he has my absolute confidence. I don't have the facts to make an assessment on the allegation raised by this former employee."

These allegations, if true, warrant an immediate independent investigation into Commissioner Rothman and his department. Furthermore, if Gov. Dayton was aware of these allegations, he owes Minnesotans an explanation of what corrective actions he has taken and what his plan is to reverse the culture problems that he has allowed to fester within his administration.

I hope you and your family have a blessed weekend!

Sincerely,

Rep. Eric Lucero

State Representative
District 30B
Albertville, Hanover, Otsego, Saint Michael, and the Wright County portion of Dayton

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