First, I want to remind you of tomorrow’s “Sit Downs with Sandy”. These will be informal meet-and-greets where I can listen to your questions and concerns relating to the legislative session. I’m holding these throughout the day, and hope you can make it out to one of them!
The House and the Senate have passed their big budget bills, and I’m pleased with the direction we’re headed. A challenge we’re seeing is a lack of engagement from Governor Dayton’s office thus far. The Legislature set deadlines three weeks ahead of schedule, and we’ve met every deadline. Minnesotans expect all sides – no matter party affiliation – to reach a compromise this session. That's why we're hopeful the governor will get involved and work with us to ensure a smooth and productive end of session.
As a member from Greater Minnesota, it’s an honor for me to represent you and other rural Minnesotans. Part of this means working with other outstate representatives to achieve common goals. This week, rural members of the legislature met to discuss the importance of expanding rural broadband. Business owners, students and families in our area need fast, reliable internet service to stay competitive in the 21st Century. I’ve long been a supporter of rural broadband, and hope we can see another significant investment this year.
We’re always working on large, statewide matters, but much of my time is also spent advocating for specific local issues. This week, representatives from the city of Coleraine, Bovey and Taconite were here to testify in the Senate Capital Investment Committee hearing and meet with the chair of the House Capital Investment Committee regarding the urgency of their deteriorating sanitary and storm water system. I am hoping for a bonding bill that will provide assistance to these cities and others.
I also met with representatives from Itasca County and we spoke with the Commissioner of Revenue regarding the potential loss of property tax revenue resulting in the Blandin Paper Company property tax challenge. This is such an important issue for the taxpayers of Itasca and surrounding counties. State leaders years ago did not foresee the negative tax consequences of placing private lands into conservation easements and we need to figure out a solution before buying additional lands.
Happy Arbor Day!
Today, April 28th, is Arbor Day across America. I took part in a short celebration on the floor of the House yesterday where three of my colleagues and I distributed Red Pine tree seedlings and commemorated the Red (Norway) Pine as Minnesota’s state tree…designated so by the Legislature and Governor in 1953. Fun factoid.
Have a great weekend!