We made progress this week in both the House committees and on the floor.
Yesterday by a 104-25 vote we passed legislation to extend unemployment benefits for eligible workers on the Iron Range by an additional 26 weeks. That bill is now in the Senate awaiting action.
Movement on the unemployment extension follows a recent announcement that Cliffs' Northshore Taconite Plant will resume production on May 15.
The Northshore plant is the first idled plant to resume production since the dramatic downturn in the steel industry. Resuming operations at the Northshore Plant highlights the need to bridge the current steel industry downturn with the unemployment extension. There is light at the end of the tunnel. The unemployment extension will help people stay afloat until the steel industry gets back on its feet.
Gov. Mark Dayton has indicated he will sign the unemployment legislation once he receives it.
This week legislation I authored to allow transition of the Aitkin County corrections program to a stand along county based organization was approved in an important committee hearing in the House.
The bill will resolve an issue created by the disestablishment of the Central Minnesota Community Corrections joint powers organization. Both Crow Wing and Morrison Counties will withdraw from the three county organization in order to establish their own county based Community Corrections Act (CCA) program effective June 30, 2016.
Current law does not allow counties with a population of less than 30,000 to establish their own county based CCA program. Aitkin County with a population of just over 16,000 is left to find another joint powers organization to join and go through an unnecessary and disruptive reorganize of the very effective probation officers currently delivering corrections services in Aitkin County.
My bill is now ready to move forward for a full vote in the House. The Senate companion bill also successfully passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee this week moving it forward toward a vote by the full Senate.
Normally on Fridays I can be found in the district, but today I am remaining in St. Paul to continue work on a support package to address the down turn in business around Mille Lacs Lake, as we work to help Mother Nature improve the walleye population in the lake.