It’s early Sunday evening as we work through the final hours of this legislative session. We have primarily worked on COVID-19 related changes needed to continue to fight the pandemic.
We also are taking care of some less pressing administrative issues that required legislative action. The recently passed transportation policy bill included a measure that Aitkin County and I have been working on for some time.
The transportation policy changes included authorization to implement a consolidated road and bridge account for the 13 unorganized townships within the county. The bill is now on the governor’s desk awaiting his signature.
This streamlines management of these very important local road and bridge dollars. Our neighbor to the north, St. Louis County for many years has had the same statutory authorization and it has proven to work very well.
This does not change the county board’s process for levying road and bridge funds within the unorganized townships, rather it simply allows for a consolidated approach in maintaining the funds for maintenance of unorganized township roads by Aitkin County.
Over the past week I have had conversations with charitable gambling managers in our area on what we can do to provide more flexibility for operations. Those that are housed in restaurant/bar venues are especially having difficulty generating charitable funds.
Charitable gambling organizations do important work in our communities supporting everything from youth programs, to veterans’ projects, to local food shelves. I and a number of my colleagues are working to gain more flexibility to operate under the current emergency orders that have severely limited their ability to raise charitable funds. More to follow on this subject.
Today I added my signature to a letter to Attorney General Ellison informing him of my disappointment about reports that his staff has been threatening Minnesota businesses. The threats of heavy fines were made with respect to varying from Gov. Walz’s current shut down orders.
This kind of action is not helpful. While no one disputes his law enforcement responsibilities, these matters are best dealt with locally, without the heavy hand of S.t Paul. I have full confidence that our citizens, businesses and local officials here in rural Minnesota are capable of handling how to proceed in a safe and reasonable manner. We do not need threats from St. Paul.
Please be safe and considerate of others as we work through these challenging times.