Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Today marks the first committee deadline at the legislature. For policy bills to continue moving towards the floor for a vote, either the House or Senate needs to have had a committee hearing on the bill by today.
Before I review some items from this week, I’d like to thank those of you who took the time to come to the mobile office hours I hosted with Sen. Eichorn last Saturday at Caribou Coffee in Grand Rapids. We were there to listen and were really pleased that so many took time to make an appointment and come prepared to talk about issues important to them. I hope to do this again soon.
Here’s a quick update with a little news from the Capitol on broadband funding, my Deer River wastewater bill, Itasca County land sale authorization, and more on daylight savings time.
On Monday, the Greater Minnesota Jobs and Economic Development Finance Division heard the bill I’m championing to provide increased funding for our state’s border-to-border broadband program, which funds broadband expansion to unserved or underserved parts of the state. This bipartisan bill would provide $70 million over the next two years for critical broadband infrastructure in rural Minnesota. I successfully amended this bill last week to ensure it would also provide more immediate funding by allocating $15 million for broadband improvements in 2019. This $15 million is now a part of this bill, which the House majority and governor indicate is a priority.
The broadband legislation I authored last year would have provided this $15 million for 2019. Unfortunately, it was vetoed by then Governor Dayton – and this funding was lost. By pursuing this extra $15 million again this year, I’m looking to restore that lost funding.
Making broadband more accessible and affordable to communities like ours isn’t a Republican or Democrat issue. It’s a rural issue, and I look forward to working with my colleagues and the governor on it in the months ahead. Click here for more coverage of this hearing.
Deer River Wastewater Bill
Yesterday morning, my bill to provide matching funding for the City of Deer River for critical sewer and water system improvements received its second committee hearing. This is an important project for Deer River's sewer, water and storm sewer needs and I will continue pushing to get it funded through the Capital Investment process. Thank you to Deer River City Councilman Chris Reed and City Administrator Mark Box for once again joining me to testify on the project’s significance.
Itasca County Land Sale
The pace at the Capitol is a fast one but sometimes we need to switch to over-drive to meet deadlines. Such was the case when I got a message from Itasca County last week that a parcel of tax-forfeited land needed state approval to be transferred as part of a bonding project we passed last session. That is a perfectly normal request, except for one thing: the Lands Bill was up for a vote in less than 48 hours in the House Environment and Natural Resources Policy Committee. With great coordination between county and state, I was able to work with the County Lands Commissioner, the House Committee Chair, the bill author, the appropriate state agencies, as well as partisan and nonpartisan research staff to get an amendment to the Lands Bill drafted in time to meet a 24 hour advance notice deadline to amend the bill. And we did it! The amended Lands Bill is now on its path through the legislative process.
Daylight Savings Time
This session, we are putting together a biennial budget and tackling some pretty controversial issues. But I also want to be responsive to concerns I hear about from constituents. This session and last, I am hearing from many who want us to take a serious look and question our tradition of changing the clock twice a year. In response to those requests, I’m authoring a bipartisan bill with DFL Rep. Mike Freiberg to keep Minnesota on daylight savings time all year.
Click here for a story MPR ran on the subject and then let me know your thoughts. There seems to be momentum at the local and national level to make a change.
Another great week for visitors from home!
Kolby and Dajana Condos of North Lakes Chiropractic stopped by to support the expiration of the healthcare provider tax.
Heard success stories from clients of Kootasca Community Action, which is a nonprofit committed to fighting poverty.
Providers and clients from Grand Rapids visited for Homeless Day at the Capitol.
Sue Estee and Deb Page from North Central Second Harvest Food Bank came by to advocate for their 2019 legislative priorities.
Superintendents from Grand Rapids, Greenway, Hill City, and International Falls were in St. Paul in support of retention of the new teacher licensure system.
Kyle Hedlund of Grand Village shared with me his concerns with the governor's nursing home cuts.
Lots of familiar faces here for Arts Advocacy Day!
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 would love to hear from you.
Have a great weekend,