Greetings from the Capitol. First I want express my concern about the Mille Lacs Lake walleye fishery. Recently the MN DNR issued this season’s fishing regulations for the lake, they can be found at www.dnr.state.mn.us/fishing/index.html .
The House Mining and Outdoor Recreation Committee will hold an informational hearing on that subject here in St. Paul at the State Office Building, 10:30 a.m. Wednesday April 22 in hearing Room 5. The DNR will provide an update on the regulations. We also will take testimony from individuals and businesses that are impacted by the regulations. Please contact me at email@example.com if you desire to testify.
We are dealing with a major outbreak of avian influenza virus here in Minnesota. Yesterday we held a joint Ag Policy/Finance committee hearing with state, federal and industry officials. As of today 26 turkey farms in Minnesota have lost approximately 1.6 million birds. The problem is regional with outbreaks in North and South Dakota, Wisconsin and states to our south.
Our Animal Health and Human Health officials indicated that this disease does not directly threaten human health or the safety of our food. The poultry industry and government are working around the clock to contain this disease. The MN DNR is also conducting a statewide monitoring program to determine at what level this disease may exist within our wild bird population. Should you discover a dead or sick bird, please contact the local DNR office or 800-652-9093.
After the Ag committee hearing we suspended house rules and brought to the floor for immediate action authorization of an additional $893,000 to pay for operations currently underway by the Minnesota Board of Animal Health and Department of Agriculture. We also have included additional funding for this item in the next two year state budget.
Unfortunately, this disease is likely to be around for several years. However, as a national leader in poultry production we are blessed with world-class avian scientists here in Minnesota. Our scientists and animal health officials are doing everything possible contain this disease.
We continue to make progress on legislation that would increase funding for our elder care system, redistribution of currently unused nursing home beds within the state, elimination of the state income tax on social security benefits and properly funding our transportation system.
Thank again for keeping the ideas and advice coming. I especially appreciate the strong support I have received on efforts to upgrade the Cuyuna Country State Recreational Area. We are making progress in gaining additional funding to significantly upgrade the recreational opportunities within the park. That will attract visitors from across the nation and also bring folks here on a permanent basis to live and work in our area.
This is last call to participate in a legislative survey that is available online. We will be compiling the results soon, but you still have time to click here and weigh in on the issues if you have not already done so.