Dear Friends and Neighbors,
With just over two weeks remaining in this year’s legislative session, it was very busy this week passing bills off the House Floor sending the bills to the Senate.
Rep. Lucero and Sen. Kiffmeyer joined thousands who traveled from all across the state to stand shoulder-to-shoulder on the Capitol steps last Saturday in support of the 2nd Amendment.
MnDOT ANNOUNCES CORRIDORS OF COMMERCE PROJECTS
The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) this week announced up to $62 million has been awarded to expand Interstate 94 between St. Michael and Albertville. The road project will expand I-94 to three lanes in each direction between Highway 241 and County Road 19, including interchange improvements at Highway 241 and at County Roads 37 and 19.
Expanding I-94 is a giant victory not only for our great community but for many across the entire State of Minnesota because I-94 is heavily traveled by thousands across the state who often get caught in very frustrating traffic congestion. Roads and bridges transportation funding is a priority I've been fighting for my entire time in the Legislature!
I’m proud Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer and I were the chief authors of the Corridors of Commerce funding provision included in the 2017 Transportation Bill last year but I’m even more proud of the privilege of working with great partners such as members of the I-94 West Corridor Coalition that helped to make this week’s funding victory a reality!
Rep. Lucero visiting with energetic sixth graders from STMA Middle School West this week at the Capitol.
SUPPLEMENTAL BILLS PASSED THIS WEEK
Multiple bills were passed off the House Floor this week. I’ve included several highlights of the different bills below.
Due to the historic tax reform bill passed by Congress in 2017, simply conforming to the federal tax code will result in a tax increase for approximately 969,490 filers. The bill passed by House Republicans this week simplifies taxes resulting in a tax decrease for 2,146,000 filers.
STATE GOVERNMENT FINANCE BILL
The bill prioritizes funding the construction of three new veterans homes, dedicating cyber security funding, reforming the Met Council, and creating more transparency in government.
Lowering energy costs for ratepayers and growing the economy are top priorities for House Republicans. The Jobs/Energy bill provides supplemental appropriations for economic development, energy, and housing. The bill also includes a number of provisions to promote clean and renewable energy, spur business development, and make housing more accessible and affordable for Minnesotans.
The Environment Finance bill dedicates $750,000 in General Fund Revenue to combat the outbreak of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) which affects Minnesota’s deer, elk and moose populations. The funding will go to the DNR for disease surveillance and to test animals that die in areas identified as CWD hotspots, as well as a response to farmed deer and elk that have escaped and pose a CWD threat to the wild population. Additionally, the bill also strengthens Minnesota’s commitment to safety and outdoor recreation and checks bureaucratic overreach by state agencies.
HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES BILL
The HHS bill includes greater protections for vulnerable adults following numerous reports of abuse and neglect in Minnesota senior care facilities. The bill includes important reforms to protect vulnerable adults throughout the state such as:
• Focusing on creating transparency in the reporting of maltreatment
• Holding state agencies accountable for their shortcomings on investigating and triaging maltreatment
• Helping prevent future maltreatment by setting up a framework to establish licensure
• Strengthening the tools the state can use against perpetrators of elder abuse
The Republican transportation bill passed last year made the largest transportation investment in state history without raising taxes. This year’s transportation bill once again prioritizes road and bridge needs by spending $385 million without raising taxes.
Rep. Lucero was among House and Senate members who gathered on the Capitol steps Thursday in recognition of the National Day of Prayer to be prayed over by the large number of citizens who turned out.
WASTEFUL SOUTHWEST LIGHT RAIL GETS EVEN MORE EXPENSIVE
September 2017, the Metropolitan Council received four bids from contractors to build Southwest Light Rail. All four original construction bids ranged from $796 million on the low end to just over $1 billion on the high end and all four were rejected last year as too expensive. After rejecting the original bids the Met Council started a new round of bids for the construction project.
The new round of bids were opened this week and only two contractors submitted bids this time. The two bids equaled $799 million and $812 million. At $799 million, the lowest bid received May 2018 was $3 million higher than the lowest bid received September 2017.
Since the Met Council rejected construction bids last year because they were budget busting and because current bids have only increased since last year, we can only hope the Met Council will soon see reality and scrap the entire illogical and wasteful southwest light rail project soon!
Rep. Lucero visiting with enthusiastic third graders during their tour of the Capitol this week from Kaleidoscope Charter School in Otsego.
STAYING IN TOUCH
As always please contact me to share any issues, concerns, or feedback you may have that will assist me best represent you. The best way to reach me is by email at Rep.Eric.Lucero@House.MN or by phone at 651-296-1534.
Albertville, Hanover, Otsego, Saint Michael, and the Wright County portion of Dayton