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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Sandy Layman (R)

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News From Representative Layman 10-1-2019

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

As we wrap up the month of September and head into peak fall color, I hope you and your family are enjoying the cooler temps and beautiful outdoors. 

Capital Investment Tours in Itasca County

This is a good time of year for traveling the state and that is what the House Capital Investment Committee has been doing. Last week, committee members and House staff visited Itasca County to tour a handful of local projects that are seeking bonding dollars during the upcoming legislative session.

On the bus ride to the first site, members heard a presentation regarding Bovey infrastructure capital improvements. The first site visit took place at the Canisteo mine in Bovey where committee members learned about how rising water levels in the mine pit are leading to public safety and property damage concerns for residents in Bovey. The proposed project would allocate funding to alleviate these concerns and ensure the safety of community members and their property.

Committee members then visited Cohasset City Hall where they received a presentation from city officials and visited the former Cohasset Mill and Lumber site to talk about the proposed Mississippi Riverfront Marina and Boardwalk Development Project.

Following the visit to Cohasset, the committee headed to Itasca Community College (ICC) where city officials from Deer River presented their bonding request that seeks funding for long-awaited sewer and water system improvements. Members also toured campus where they learned about ICC’s asset preservation needs.

Members ended the day in Grand Rapids with a visit to the IRA Civic Center where they toured the facility and heard a presentation on the need to repair portions of the civic center’s roof.

Each of these projects is deserving and would meet specific needs for our communities. As a member of the House Capital Investment Committee, I will advocate for these projects when putting together next year’s bonding bill.

Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB) Action

As a legislator from the Iron Range, I also serve as a member of the board of Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation (IRRRB) and on September 9th, we met and recommended approval for several loans and grants. I am pleased to report that four of the projects funded are taking place here in Itasca County. 

They include: (1) $1 million loan to North Homes Children and Family Services for expansion to allow for the construction of a new $6.5 million psychiatric treatment facility serving children from ages 11 to 18. The facility will serve an urgent need in Northeastern Minnesota and result in 60 new jobs; (2) a $350,000 infrastructure grant to the City of Grand Rapids as part of the North Homes project; (3) a $250,000 grant to the city of Grand Rapids for installation of water, sanitary sewer, lift station, storm sewer and roadways to support a new housing development; and (4) a $250,000 grant to the city of Cohasset for infrastructure, site work and construction of a new senior/community center as part of the newly remodeled Cohasset School.

North Star Logging Expo

On September 13th, the Itasca County Fairgrounds was once again the site for the North Star Logging Expo. The Forestry Committees of Bemidji and Grand Rapids take this opportunity to host their annual meeting to hear from the public and private experts in the field and stay informed on all things related to the forest. 

Students from around the region bus into the fairgrounds to learn about careers related to the forestry industry and legislators like myself attend to stay in the loop regarding forest-based industries that are so vital to our region. 

Kudos to the chambers of commerce and economic development organizations in both Bemidji and Grand Rapids who organize this event each year.

Itasca Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) Annual Meeting

And, speaking of forestry and economic development, the annual meeting of IEDC took place on September 19th in Grand Rapids.

Each fall, IEDC invites supporters to a reception and program that recaps the work of the organization over the year and energizes the participants with a keynote speaker. 

This year’s speaker was David Ollila, co-founder of 100K Ideas. He talked about his role in the renewal of Flint Michigan’s economy through an innovative process used to help everyday entrepreneurs turn their ideas into revenue-generating businesses. This may be a model that economic developers in our region could learn from and, potentially, emulate.

High School Page Program

Applications are now being taken for the House of Representative’s high school page program. If you know of a high school junior interested in politics or state government, please encourage them to apply.

This is an awesome opportunity, especially for students from Greater Minnesota. Throughout their week in St. Paul, program participants are introduced to a wide variety of experiences, designed to provide them with a deep understanding of our state government.

Among the many highlights included in each student's week at the Capitol are:

  • Individual meetings with legislators designed to allow students to discuss the issues that matter most to them.
  • Experiencing the legislative process firsthand by assisting members during the legislative session.
  • Participating in a mock committee session designed to develop students' leadership skills and to inspire them to think critically about the issues confronting our state.
  • Providing students with the opportunity to meet with constitutional officers, members of the judiciary, lobbyists, and members of the media.

The program is open to high school juniors. Those interested should click here for additional information.

Rural Arts Summit

Grand Rapids has the honor of hosting the 2019 Rural Arts & Culture Summit on October 3-5. The event will bring 350 leaders from around the country to celebrate arts-based community and economic development. Click here for more information on the summit.

Mini-Session 

Also, this coming week is the House of Representatives' three-day “mini-session” which will be based out of Winona. I will be traveling to Winona and participating in the mini-session and, unfortunately, will miss the Rural Arts Summit as well as the Cass County Economic Development Council Annual Meeting taking place back home. 

Stay in touch

As always, please contact me if you have any questions or concerns. I value your input and enjoy hearing from you.

Have a great weekend,

Sandy

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