A quick update as we finish a full week here in Saint Paul. As I indicated in my last update, we have been locked in some pretty serious debate this week. When we finally adjourned moments ago at midnight Saturday, I can report that three bills did leave the House and are now in possession of the Senate awaiting action.
The Legacy Bill (HF 13) moved forward to the Senate on 87-40 vote. This bill appropriates the constitutionally dedicated sales tax collected under the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Constitutional Amendment. About $256 million will go for conservation projects, $256 million toward clean water projects, $110 million toward parks and trails and $140 million toward arts and cultural projects.
While I did not agree with every one of the 200-plus projects contained in the bill, my vote was one of the 87 members that supported the bill.
The second bill was the Dept of Agriculture and Board of Animal Health Finance Bill (HF 8) which funds those agencies at $118.7 million for the next two years. That represents a $10 million dollar increase over the past two-year budget.
While this amount only represents about two-tenths of one percent of the approximately $52 billion two year state budget, these two agencies provide critical underpinning for Minnesota’s massive agriculture based economy and ensure food safety in our state.
As one of only a few members of the legislature and the House Agriculture Committee that is actively engaged in farming I was very pleased to see the bill move forward on a veto-proof vote of 111-20.
After an extremely tense debate over inadequate public safety funding for the University of Minnesota Police Department the Higher Education Finance Bill passed on a 71-57 vote.
There remains a major crime problem in the metro area, that includes areas on and near our UMN campuses. Despite an effort to ensure that appropriate funding was specifically directed at public safety on the campuses, that effort was voted down in every case by the DFL majority.
I remain dumbfounded at this anti-police, anti-public safety approach, as the past two evenings here at the Capitol, we were cautioned to return to our offices and the parking garage only using the tunnel - as shots were fired just after dark - literally across the street from the Capitol.
While I support higher education, this bill did not get my vote.
Until next time, I hope you have an enjoyable Father's Day.