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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Abigail Whelan (R)

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Legislative Update from Rep. Abigail Whelan (6.01.18)

Friday, June 1, 2018

Dear Neighbors,

With the 2018 session now complete, I won’t be sending updates as often about what’s happening at the Capitol, and due to campaign finance rules these updates will cease beginning mid-July. Please don’t hesitate to contact my office at any time if you have questions or need assistance on a matter of state government. I am here to serve you!

Bonding Bill Signed

This week, Governor Dayton acted positively and signed the bonding bill. It included $825 million in general obligation bonds to fund construction projects statewide; $416 million in trunk highway bonds intended for Highways 14, 23, and 252; and $80 million in appropriation bonds. When added up with a few other miscellaneous amounts from other funds, the net borrowing for all funds in the bill came to $1.48 billion.

The bill also included funding for the General Fund Debt Service, funding for the Trunk Highway Fund Debt Service, funding for the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund (ENRTF), funding for the ENRTF Debt Service, funding for the Minnesota Rail Service Improvement Fund (MRSI), and some General Fund spending for various items, including $25 million in school safety grants (Note: Usually the ENRTF appropriations are passed in another bill). When added together those provisions totaled $86 million.

In sum: the bill totaled $1.57 billion in Net Borrowing* and All Funds spending (for comparison, the State's biennial budget enacted last year was $46 billion). Notably, however, the governor did line-item veto a provision giving $1 million to higher education institutions to review MPCA permits, an effort to find millions of dollars in cost-savings.

For specifics on the bill and various projects, see:

I do think we need to focus on spending less as a state. Yet, with divided government, I believe this bill achieved a balanced compromise. Specifically, the governor wanted to spend more in bonding; he advocated for $1.5 billion in general obligation bonds (as mentioned above, our bill totaled $825 million in general obligation bonds).

Also, while I am not an advocate of bonding in general (as I have shared in the past), I am pleased that when crafting the bill, the Capital Investment Committee in the House focused heavily on our state’s shared needs, including asset preservation, roads and bridges, and water infrastructure.

Highlights include:

  • $541 million for transportation
  • $178 million for asset preservation
  • $123 million for water-related projects
  • $20 million for flood work
  • $208 million for higher education construction
  • $32 million for veterans homes in Preston, Bemidji, and Montevideo
  • $28 million for mental health crisis centers

What’s more, as I shared last week, local projects in the bill include:

  • $2 million for a highway-rail grade separation on Ramsey Boulevard in Ramsey
  • $15 million for Highway 10 at Thurston Ave, West Main Street, and Fairoak Avenue in Anoka
  • $6.55 million for roof improvements and HVAC replacement at the Anoka Metro Regional Treatment Center

These are all projects worthy of funding, and I am pleased they were included in the bonding bill. Highway 10 especially is in great need of improvements, and I want to thank Anoka County and the cities of Anoka and Ramsey for partnering with the Legislature and working hard to secure various forms of funding to complete needed safety upgrades on the stretch of highway from Fairoak to Thurston.

Finally, as mentioned above, there was also $25 million for school security facility grants, helping schools make security upgrades to their buildings. This was a huge priority for the Legislature this session, and I am pleased it was passed.

*While I do not like that we borrow as a state, we have some guidelines in place to help ensure we borrow wisely (think of buying a mortgage). For example, we typically take out twenty years bonds and must pay back 40 percent of the bonds within the first five years, and 70 percent within ten years.

Pension Bill Signed

Pensions was another important bill signed into law this week. It’s expected to save Minnesota taxpayers $57 million in fiscal year 2019 and $263 million in the next biennium. Furthermore, according to Minnesota Management and Budget, this bipartisan legislation will eliminate $3.4 billion from the state's unfunded pension liability, improving the sustainability of pensions for police, volunteer firefighters, teachers, and public employees.

Around the Community

Cops and Cones

Attend an upcoming Cops and Cones event with the Anoka Police Department. Stop by and say hi to members of our local police department, and enjoy some ice cream too. The events run on June 6 from 5-7 PM at the Dairy Queen on 424 West Main Street and July 11 from 5-7 PM at the Akin Riverside Park on 1721 River Ave, Anoka.

Jam by the Dam

Come support K-12 music education at the Jam by the Dam event on Saturday, June 2 which includes an all-day outdoor concert in Downtown Anoka with food trucks, beer and more. See the full band lineup and learn more here.

2018 Concerts in the Park

Sunday evenings starting in June, come enjoy some great music with the weekly Concert in the Park. The concerts start at 7 PM in George Green Park in Anoka. See the full schedule and get more details here.

Ramsey Parks and Recreation

There are plenty of fun activities in Ramsey this month! Check out the Ramsey Parks and Recreation event calendar here for more information.

Anoka Classic Car Show

The 2018 Anoka Classic Car Show takes place Saturdays from 5:00 PM through dusk throughout the summer in downtown Anoka. Get all the details here.

The Draw Summer Event Series

Every Thursday from June 14 through August 23, the Draw Summer Event Series is happening in Ramsey. Concert style music starts at 6:30 PM at the Draw Amphitheater and the events are free to the public. Learn more here.

Minnesota State Daughters of the American Revolution Flag Day 5k

Run or walk for a good cause on June 16, with all proceeds benefiting the Fisher House. Learn more about the 5K happening in Ramsey, here.

Celebrate the Fourth of July!

Anoka’s annual Fourth of July celebration includes a fireworks display and ice cream social. The fireworks are Tuesday, July 3 at dusk, and the best viewing is at Castle Field. Before the fireworks, there will also be the 6th Annual Anoka American Legion Post #102 Alumni Baseball Game at Castle Field with concessions, yard games, and music. Then on July 4, attend the ice cream social from noon to 3 PM at George Green Park, where there will be free root beer floats, yard games, food trucks and a concert.

You can learn more here.


Please know my office is available should you need assistance on a matter of state government. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-1729 or via email at I also welcome your input and ideas on legislation and matters moving through the Minnesota House. I am here to serve you and it is a joy! Thank you for the honor and privilege of being your state representative.

Have a wonderful weekend,