I hope you were able to spend some extra time with your loved ones last week! This update includes lots of information related to legislation we passed earlier this year. I hope you find it useful.
No Child Left Inside Update – Now Accepting Applications!
When the first phase of applications for No Child Left Inside grants opened in October, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) received hundreds of applications in just a few hours. The DNR will soon be releasing the list of programs that received these “mini grants.” It’s exciting to see so much interest in getting kids outside, and we are already looking towards continuing the program permanently.
The second phase of applications for larger grants is now open! If you work with a public entity (schools, cities, counties, etc.), tribal government, or non-profit organization and have an idea for how you could put grant dollars to work, please check out the application process here. Applications will be accepted until 2 p.m. on Thursday, January 9.
Construction Update: I-694 and Rice Street
The new roundabout on the north side of I-694 is now open! As part of the new I-694/Rice Street interchange design, this roundabout will help folks get on and off the interstate more quickly and reduce backups. Information about the interchange design and roundabouts is available here.
The east and westbound exit ramps from I-694 to Rice Street opened last week. The stretch of County Drive between Rice Street and Spruce Street has reopened to traffic as well. More details are available here.
Clean Water Action Legislator of the Year
I recently received the Legislator of the Year Award from Clean Water Action Minnesota! The award was given in recognition of my work on environmental issues, including the Firefighter and Children Health Protection Act. This law will phase out the use of unnecessary toxic flame retardant chemicals in household products and firefighting foam. It’s an honor to be recognized, and I will continue to work on protecting our natural resources and public health.
House Bonding Committee Visits The Oval
During the interim, members of the House Capital Investment Committee have been traveling across the state to learn more about local infrastructure needs. Site visits and presentations help the committee members determine which projects to prioritize in the 2020 bonding bill. I enjoyed welcoming my colleagues to Roseville so they could see firsthand how important The Oval is to our community and the state of Minnesota!
As the largest outdoor refrigerated ice rink in this hempisphere, the Roseville Oval is used by thousands of Minnesotans each year for hockey, speed skating, bandy, and other ice sports. It’s also used as a national training facility for speed skating and has hosted many Olympians. Without state funding for updates, the City of Roseville’s budget would see a significant impact. I’ve introduced legislation to secure funding for needed infrastructure and equipment repairs, and I’ll continue to work hard to make sure it’s included in the bonding bill.
Chronic Wasting Disease in the News
Like thousands of other Minnesotans, I spent the second weekend of November in my deer stand for opening weekend of the firearm deer season. Hunters play an important role in managing the deer population, and I want to thank all of the hunters who hunted in CWD management zones. There are extra regulations in place and the cooperation of everyone is imperative to manage this disease.
As a lifelong deer hunter, I’ve worked hard to bring more attention to the spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD), a fatal neurological disease that infects deer and other cervid species. In just three years, more than 50 cases of CWD have been discovered in Minnesota. Many outbreaks have been linked to commercial deer facilities where animals are bred and raised in captivity. This year we finally started to make real progress by increasing oversight of these facilities and making sure the DNR has what they need for better surveillance and management, but we need to do more to contain this deadly disease. The Star Tribune and the Duluth News Tribune recently published pieces about the role that deer breeding businesses and pay-to-shoot “hunting” preserves play in the spread of CWD. You can read them here and here.
If you’d like to learn more about the science of CWD, the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota is hosting a free online webinar with Dr. Debbie McKenzie, a leading expert on the topic. On Wednesday, December 11 at 1 p.m., Dr. McKenzie will provide an introduction to CWD and discuss potential consequences. You can register for the webinar here.
Lawns to Legumes Applications
Applications for Lawns to Legumes are now open! This program, which was established thanks to legislation we passed this year, helps Minnesotans create pollinator-friendly habitats in their lawns. Many resources are available, including workshops, coaching, planting guides, and cost-share funding.
You can learn more about Lawns to Legumes here. If you’re interested in the cost-share funding, application information is available here. Applications must be received by Friday, February 28.
Water Gremlin Public Meeting
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Department of Health, and Department of Labor and Industry are holding an open house to update community members on what’s happening at the Water Gremlin facility. Agency staff will provide information about Water Gremlin’s latest violations and what they’re doing to address them. There will be time for questions after their presentation, but residents should come early if they’d like to talk one-on-one with agency staff.
When: Wednesday, December 11 from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. (There will be an informal open house at 6:30 p.m., followed by a presentation at 7 p.m.)
Where: Jimmy’s Event Center, 3565 Labore Road, Vadnais Heights, MN 55110
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