Happy Friday! Before the weekend, here’s an update with the latest from St. Paul:
We returned Monday to the Capitol after our week-long Easter/Passover break, and things picked up right where they left off. It was another busy week of committee hearings and late nights. This was true especially for the Health and Human Services Finance Committee, in which we heard bills until nearly midnight on Tuesday and Wednesday!
As many of you know, our state has a projected $329 million budget surplus. On Thursday, the House adopted supplemental budget targets for how to use that surplus. House Republicans remain focused on dedicating the majority of this surplus to providing meaningful tax relief to Minnesota’s middle class families in addition to making transportation investments in roads and bridges. Other important priorities focus on improving school safety and preventing a 7 percent wage cut to those who care for Minnesota’s disabled community.
Proposed Buffer Penalty
Last week the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources introduced a proposal that would have fined farmers out of compliance with our state’s buffer law by up to $500 per linear foot. This could have resulted in thousands of dollars in annual fines for farmers just a few feet out of compliance across their entire property. I am strongly opposed to these excessive penalties and was disappointed to hear about the proposal, which would have placed an unnecessary burden on Minnesota agriculture. However, due to the countless farmers that voiced their concerns with the proposed penalties, BWSR withdrew the proposal yesterday afternoon. Thanks to all those that took the time to make their voices heard. Going forward, I will continue to advocate for our state’s hardworking farmers, and ensure their interests are considered by state agencies before proposals are put forward.
Rochester Airport Bill
I am authoring a bill this session to make key safety improvements at the Rochester Airport. My bill received a hearing in the Transportation Finance Committee yesterday, and would provide funding for the Rochester Airport to acquire and install an instrumental landing system upgrade. This project would expand capability for aircrafts to land during low visibility weather conditions and is critical in ensuring safe landings for the numerous flights arriving at the airport each day.
The Rochester Airport is integral to southeastern Minnesota’s economic prosperity. It provides an impressive annual economic impact for the region of nearly $162 million dollars in annual output, 2,911 jobs, and $73 million dollars in annual payroll.
Moreover, its accessibility is crucial in ensuring it can accommodate the tens of thousands of patients from all around the world that come to Rochester for medical services at the Mayo Clinic. In addition to its importance for patients visiting, the airport is crucial in allowing for the shipment of approximately 30,000 lab samples each day for analysis and medical tests carried out in Rochester.
I am hopeful for the bill’s eventual passage and will be sure to keep you informed of its status.
Testifying on the bill with Mayor Ardell Brede and Rochester Airport Deputy Director Kurt Claussen.
Land Stewardship Project Breakfast
I had the pleasure of attending Land Stewardship Project’s Annual Family Farm Breakfast yesterday morning. Land Stewardship Project is a nonprofit organization which supports family farms and sustainable agriculture practices. It’s an honor to have their support for my new farmer tax credit legislation which was enacted last year, and is allowing many aspiring farmers to begin careers in one of our state’s most important industries.
Please continue to stay in touch to share your thoughts on the issues that come up before committee and on the House floor; I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me via phone at (651) 296-4378 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a great weekend,