Discussions regarding the Mille Lacs Lake walleye fishery continue. Gov. Mark Dayton has scheduled a town hall meeting from noon to 2 p.m. tomorrow (July 31) at Isle High School (730 5th Ave. S. 56432). The governor and other officials will receive input on what course of action is needed. I encourage local citizens and business owners to attend and participate in the discussion.
I will attend the meeting and will focus my comments on two major areas that need attention:
(1) What can we do now and into the future to assist the local economy surrounding the lake? Over the past several years we have experienced a steady decline in economic actively that is directly related to the management of the lake’s fishery. This is not just a hardship for our resorts, it impacts the economic welfare of the entire community.
(2) What can we do to fix the lake-management plan? By all measures, the current plan has failed to maintain the walleye fishery at its previous robust level. The first step in finding one’s way out of the woods, is accepting we have lost our way and are in need of a new set of directions.
Please contact me with your ideas on how we can move forward. It’s as easy as just hitting reply and send those ideas to me via email. It will take a team effort to get this situation back on the right track.
Yesterday, I was in St. Paul working on the fishery and several other issues. That included inviting the governor to come fish on Mille Lacs. I made the point that Mille Lacs remains the state’s premier fishing lake. In addition to walleyes, northern pike, musky and small mouth bass abound in the lake. Fishing remains exceptional!
As I mentioned in my last email update, we need a bit more data before a final decision is made as to how the recent creel survey will impact walleye fishing for the rest of season. Yesterday I also discussed with House Speaker Kurt Daudt the importance of doing some intense homework to develop workable solutions before we jump into a special legislative session. As Speaker Daudt has already recommended to the governor, we need to assemble a working group to assess the best way forward. That is necessary and I have offered to participate in that process.
The Veterans Committee held an informational hearing yesterday afternoon in St. Paul. We took testimony from other legislators, citizens and Maj. Gen. Richard Nash, Commander of the Minnesota National Guard, on what measures are in place and additional measures that may be needed with respect to ensuring the safety of our National Guard and other members of the uniformed services here in Minnesota. The recent deadly attack on service members in Chattanooga, Tenn., requires we carefully examine the security polices we have in place for protection of our service members at home here in the United States.
As for other news, the arrival of Aug. 1 means another round of new laws go on the books in Minnesota, including legislation I authored to help veterans enter the civilian workforce.
The bill I authored moves “Hire a Veteran Month” from May to July in order to create a break from the many spring time events such as high school graduations, the fishing opener and Mother's Day. July also more conducive for the Department of Veterans Affairs in working with the Department of Employment and Economic Development, which has some of its larger job fair events that month.
Another new law I supported establishes Military Spouses and Families Day to honor “the vital support and sacrifice that the spouses and families of military personnel make for the betterment and support of this country.” Minnesota will designate the Sunday before Memorial Day as Military Spouses and Families Day. Minnesota is the second state with such an observance and the governor will issue a proclamation each year honoring this day.
In a different area, we made two changes in law pertain to driving. One increases the fine from $50 to $225 for second and subsequent texting-while-driving convictions. Another law limits the length of time law enforcement agents can retain data collected from automatic license plate readers.
The license plate reader issue was the subject of much debate during the 2015 session. People’s opinions vary significantly on this issue. Some wanted a zero retention policy, others want the data retained for 90 days or even longer.
In the end, a 60-day retention compromise was reached. This was an important step because, whether we agree or disagree with the 60 days, it is better than allowing plate reader data to simply go public, which is what would have happened without a clear policy on data retention and protecting the data from unauthorized use.
For more information on laws that will change as of Aug. 1, click here.