Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms in our district and around the state! What a great time to celebrate our loving, caring mothers, and the immeasurable impact they have. Be sure to wish a Happy Mother’s Day to a mom in your life! My own mother is no longer with us but I enjoy celebrating the mothers of my grandchildren!
This week in St. Paul, we had conference committees formed to rectify some of the differences between our larger budget bills and those that were passed by the Senate. These include our tax conformity proposal as well as our supplemental budget. With just over a week left in session, we’ll see these final bills come together, and we should hear them on the floor next week along with the bonding bill. It’ll be a sprint to the finish, and I look forward to hearing from you as we discuss these important topics.
My Legislation Passes
On Monday, the House unanimously passed my bill to prevent future raids of the Douglas J. Johnson (DJJ) Trust Fund on a House vote of 126-0. The legislation, HF3763, clarifies current statute relating to the DJJ economic protection trust fund. The change ensures money in the fund is only used for the benefit of the Taconite Assistance Area and shall not be expended, appropriated, or transferred from the fund for any other purpose.
This bill had the full support of the Iron Range Delegation and I am so pleased to have gained the unanimous support of all of my House colleagues. My legislation is simple, and essentially puts an exclamation point on our current law in order to better keep DJJ funds in the Taconite Assistance Area. These dollars are intended to be used for our area, and the passage of this bill can help avoid unlawful tinkering by future legislatures.
A funny moment came as I was taking a picture of the voting board and some of my colleagues jokingly pretended to vote against my bill. What a great photo from the talented folks in House Photography!
Wild Rice Veto
On Wednesday, I joined a bipartisan group of legislators to express our disappointment in Governor Dayton's veto of our bill to update water quality standards related to wild rice. Our bill puts us on a path to protect Minnesota’s natural wild rice resources while saving countless, unneeded costs that would result by enforcing a 45-year-old numeric sulfate standard that has never been recognized or enforced. If you’re interested, you can see my remarks from the press conference here.
My hope is that the governor will reconsider this issue so we can move forward together.
Public Safety Bill
Another bill we passed this week increases penalties for those who choose to block access to a highway, airport, or public transit. We’ve seen these types of acts cut off freeways, posing a significant risk to Minnesotans. Just think; by shutting down a highway, it could make it impossible for a firetruck, ambulance or police car to get to the scene of an emergency. It’s already illegal to block a highway, but our hope is that increased penalties will deter this type of dangerous behavior going forward.
Tourism and Fishing Opener
We’re in the midst of National Travel and Tourism Week, which is perfect timing considering it’s fishing opener this weekend. Our area is fortunate to have abundant natural resources that bring in folks from across the state.
Good luck to everyone heading out fishing this weekend, and best wishes to all of our local small businesses helping to bolster our area’s tourism industry.
Grand Rapids city councilor Rick Blake came to St. Paul on Wednesday for the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities Day on the Hill and we had a chance to meet on a number of topics. I also hosted an introductory meeting with Headwaters Entertainment, a new promotion and production company with leadership hailing from Grand Rapids and other parts of Minnesota.
Jennifer (Bevis) Svatos from the Blandin Foundation came for a visit and brought her son Nolan, niece Abigail and parents Wanda and Reid Bevis. What a delightful family! They even stayed around to watch me present my bill on the floor Monday afternoon. With session getting busier, there’s been fewer local residents making their way to the Capitol, so this visit was an extra special reminder of home.
With just a week left in session, I hope you’ll contact me to talk about important issues. I’d love to hear from you.
Have a great weekend and happy Mother’s Day!