Dear Friends and Neighbors,
This week, we headed back to St. Paul following our Easter and Passover break. We picked up right where we left off with hearings, constituent visits, and floor sessions. Below is my latest legislative update with information on the bills I presented this week, local visitors, and more.
We’re in the final days of tax season, so be sure to file before the deadline! When you are filing, you may notice new options that can save you money. Last year, we were able to cut taxes for senior citizens, veterans, working families, and recent college graduates. Along with conforming to the new federal tax law, we’ll look to continue returning the surplus to Minnesotans. Just yesterday, the House set budget targets, and we’re focusing on school safety, tax relief, as well as roads and bridges.
Yesterday was a lively day at the Capitol as it was Broadband Day on the Hill. I spoke with broadband advocates working with the Rural Broadband Coalition in the morning, and presented my bill to fund and expand broadband internet access throughout rural Minnesota. I wanted to say a special thanks to Gary Johnson of Paul Bunyan Communications, Brent Christianson, Minnesota Telecom Alliance, student Hannah Erickson of Greenway High School, Eric Klindt, business owner and Wilkin County Commissioner and Nancy Hoffman, Chair of the Rural Broadband Coalition for helping me testify in favor of this bill.
Lack of high-speed internet connections continues to be a significant issue in parts of our area. This is an economic development issue, but also something I hear from Minnesota families who just want the same ease-of-access as many in our state.
My hope is to see a continued investment in bringing more broadband access to rural households.
This morning, I presented a bill for $600,000 of funding for the National Resources Research Institute (NRRI). This money is intended for the development and demonstration of a portfolio of higher value energy products like biomass. The work would be done in the Renewable Energy Laboratory in Coleraine. With the changing economy and the closure of paper machines and board plants, research into higher value energy products utilizing our wood resource is extremely important for our area and for the entire state. This is another bipartisan bill, and the entire Iron Range delegation - Democrats and Republicans alike - have signed on as coauthors in the House.
I’ve written before about my bill that would make it easier for ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft to expand to areas in rural Minnesota. You may have also seen misleading attack ads, and I want to set the record straight.
My rationale is simple: I’d like to see more transportation options in Greater Minnesota. If we can make it easier for ridesharing services to expand, we’ll give more transportation alternatives for seniors, those with disabilities, and college students without cars. And we will provide job opportunities for area residents who are interested in earning additional income by becoming part-time drivers.
If you have questions about this bill, I’d encourage you to contact me. I’m happy to discuss the legislation and any and all questions you have.
Earlier this week, I met with Future Farmers of America students from Grand Rapids. It was so great meeting with the Grand Rapids FFA students to talk about their interest in agriculture and their willingness to take leadership in this field.
During the week, I also had visits from a group of 49ers (carpenters, laborers, sheet metal workers, etc.) from Grand Rapids, Northeast Higher Education President Bill Maki and Sierra Brown from Grand Rapids who is currently a student at the U of M Morris.
As always, I encourage you to come to St. Paul for a visit and to see the renovated Capitol. If you can’t make it down, please call or email my office so we can talk about important state issues.
Have a great weekend,