This week I was honored to be elected as chair of the Legislature’s Permanent School Trust Lands Commission. The commission chair serves for two years on a rotating basis with the Senate. The commission includes six members from the Senate and six from the House of Representatives.
School trust lands were first set aside in 1849 when Minnesota was still a territory. Upon statehood, in 1858, it became the state’s responsibility to manage them to produce income for the state’s school districts.
Minnesota currently has approximately 2.5 million acres of school trust lands, plus an additional 1 million acres of mineral rights. The commission’s mission is to ensure these properties continue to produce revenue for our school districts today and well into the future.
We were busy this week with visitors in St. Paul and conference calls. Senator Ruud and I had a very productive conference call with the entire Aitkin County Board of Commissioners during their regular meeting. We discussed the many issues they face.
Rep. Heintzeman and I met with Crow Wing County commissioners, the auditor-treasurer and county administrator. We discussed issues with the current state mental health program which is severely complicating their ability to carry out other state mandated Health and Human Service functions.
I met with the Northern Counties Land Use Group which included county commissioners from Aitkin County and surrounding counties to our north. I am a co-author on the wetland mitigation funding bill and chief-author on a payment in lieu of taxes bill, both of which are important priorities for Aitkin, Crow Wing counties and our rural counties in the northern part of Minnesota.
Members of the Mille Lacs Energy, Lakeland Power and Crow Wing Power cooperative board of directors visited this week to discuss important changes moving forward in the Legislature that will return local control to electric cooperatives with respect to rate setting and dispute resolution.
My bill H.F. 12 was heard in the House Property Tax and Local Government Finance Division this week, along with other bills that would also significantly reduce the small business-killing state general tax. I anticipate several other bills I am working on will be heard in committees next week. Track the bills I am working on by clicking here and then, under the “Member Links” header, select “Bills Chief Authored” or “Co-Authored.”
I want to thank the many groups and individuals for taking the time to visit St. Paul this week. Please have a safe weekend.