Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The pace at the Capitol picked up this week as we began our regular committee and floor session schedule. A lot of legislative work, especially early in session, takes place in committees. This year one of the most important tasks facing the legislature is creating budgets for state agencies for the next two years, so this will be the major focus in finance committees. The agendas this week were filled with informational hearings and overviews of each subject area.
In today’s update, I want to fill you in on the committees I am serving on this biennium as well as a few bills I am already working on.
I have received assignments to four committees or divisions. My four appointments are the Greater Minnesota Jobs and Economic Development Finance Division, the Capital Investment Division, the Higher Education Division, and the Government Operations Committee. My committee assignments are a good fit for my priorities and will give me the opportunity to work closely on issues important to northern and rural Minnesota.
As I mentioned last week, the Greater Minnesota Jobs and Economic Development Finance Division will allow me to advocate for infrastructure and other improvements to continue developing economies in rural parts of the state. Likewise, this committee is where we will do a lot of work on the broadband legislation I am authoring with Rep. Rob Ecklund, which provides $70 million over the next two years for critical broadband infrastructure in rural Minnesota.
The Capital Investment, or “bonding”, committee is tasked with using state bonds to fund constructions projects statewide, provide maintenance of existing buildings and repair and replacement of water infrastructure. I am authoring legislation this year to provide the city of Deer River with $4.5 million in bonds to help fund a wastewater treatment project.
An important responsibility of the Higher Education committee this year, in addition to approving budgets, is naming five new regents to the University of Minnesota’s Board of Regents. This week we met the 16 finalists.
Tobacco 21 Bill
In addition to the bills mentioned above, another piece of legislation I am working on is a bipartisan bill to raise the tobacco purchasing age to 21 in Minnesota. This is a very important issue to me as I want to keep tobacco out of the hands of young people and cut down on the number of Minnesotans who become addicted.
The healthcare costs associated with tobacco use are high, and Tobacco 21 legislation can help reduce the number of smokers in our state, improve the health of citizens, save taxpayers money and most importantly, save lives by reducing tobacco use for the next generation. I think increasing the age to purchase tobacco products is a commonsense reform to help curb tobacco use in young people, and I will keep you updated as I push for this bill again this year.
On Wednesday, I had the chance to meet with folks from our area who are members of the Builders Association of Minnesota. We had a good conversation about the building trades and their priorities. It’s always a treat to see people from our community at the Capitol, and I look forward to greeting more of you as session continues.
Please Contact Me
As always, please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns on any legislative issue. I value your input and enjoy hearing from you.
Have a great weekend,