Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Can you believe it is the end of January? At the start of the month, it quickly became apparent that the holidays were over, and we were coming up on the 2018 legislative session. It’s been a busy few weeks of meetings and visits, and I’ve enjoyed seeing many of you at events and stops throughout the district. If we haven’t had a chance to meet up, please contact me to schedule a time.
At the start of the month, I joined Senator Eichorn and Rep. Bliss and Rep. Sandstede to discuss legislative priorities with the Itasca County Commissioners and heads of county departments. More recently, Senator Eichorn and I met with the Grand Rapids City Council and staff for a work session to discuss their priorities for the coming session. These meetings are incredibly helpful in fully understanding the priorities of our local elected bodies and how we might address them at the state level.
Jobs, jobs, jobs
Twice this month I’ve met with Long-Term Future, Strategy and Implementation Team formed by IEDC in response to recent workforce reductions due to layoffs at Blandin Paper, Magnetation and Minnesota Power. Years ago, as president of IEDC, I worked with community and business leaders to form JOBS 2020 which, fortunately, was in place when Blandin Paper shut down two paper machines. This Long-Term Future team currently being formed by IEDC hopes to update the economic development strategy for the Itasca Area and implement actions that will result in job retention and creation for the future.
Martin Luther King Day at Pine River-Backus
One of the highlights of my recent visits was taking part in the Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration at Pine River-Backus schools. I spent the day talking with six groups of students grades 10-12 about my journey into politics, and the influence MLK had paving a way toward public service. It was great to see all the kids so engaged and interested in a day filled with activities.
At last week’s IRRRB meeting, the board rescinded prior action to move $100 million of DJJ Trust into a new Range trust. Chair Tomassoni appointed himself, Reps. Ecklund and Metsa and me to a working group to take another look at this. We also approved just under $5 million to reduce the amount of School District 318 upcoming bond referendum, and approved funding for three mountain biking trails including $625,000 for the Tioga mine site in Cohasset.
Pre-session Legislative Forum
Senators Tomassoni and Eichorn and Representative Bliss and I joined forces to participate in the pre-legislative session forum last week hosted by the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. The chamber does a good job with these forums, which are always well attended. Questions from chamber members ranged from transportation funding to tax reform to the opioid crisis. ICTV was on hand so I expect the forum will be played in the near future for public viewing.
Please Contact Me
Again, please reach out if you’d like to share your thoughts on the upcoming legislative session. We’re just a few weeks away from starting up again, but I’d like to gather as much input as possible before everything gets busy in St. Paul.
Enjoy Super Bowl week!