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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Laurie Pryor (DFL)

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Legislative Update - April 21, 2017

Friday, April 21, 2017

Dear Neighbors,

After being on recess last week, we are back at the State Capitol for the final five weeks of the legislative session. With both the House and Senate passing their versions of the major budget bills, conference committees have been appointed to iron out the differences between them. Governor Dayton will also be very involved in the process as we seek to reach agreement on the final budget.


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Wednesday, Sen. Steve Cwodzinski and I sat in on the conference committee for the Education Finance Bill. With each of us serving on our respective body’s Education Policy Committees, Steve and I are both quite interested in these deliberations. The House’s version of the finance bill underfunds our public schools. By not keeping pace with inflation, the bill essentially is a cut in funding which would result in possible teacher layoffs, larger class sizes, and fewer resources for students. I hope the committee, with Gov. Dayton's input, will reach a compromise that improves opportunities for all learners and gives our local schools the resources they need.


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Wednesday was Water Action Day at the Capitol, sponsored by groups advocating for one of our most precious natural resources. The folks I met were clear in their message: we need to oppose legislation that threatens to rollback key protections for rivers, lakes, and streams, including the buffer law passed in 2015. We have a responsibility to ensure that everyone has clean drinking water available, both now and for future generations. I appreciate the visit from constituents sharing their thoughts on this critical issue and as well as all the emails, letters, and phone calls I have been receiving.


The Omnibus Job Growth & Energy Bill represents a missed opportunity for Minnesota's economy. The bill cuts job creation efforts, consumer protections, and support for workforce housing, and it rolls back Minnesota’s renewable energy progress. With a diverse and changing workforce, we should be looking at strategies which would keep our economy on the right track both in the near and short terms. Here are three proposals that I believe should have been in the omnibus bill:

Restore funding for the Minnesota Investment Fund and Job Creation Fund – These programs create jobs all over the state. Since its creation in 2014, this fund has awarded $33 million to 74 business expansion projects in Minnesota, which has leveraged $1 billion in private investment and created 4,440 full-time jobs. Unfortunately, Republicans have repeatedly slashed these initiatives.

Expand our green economy – In 2007, Minnesota passed a nation-leading goal calling on 25 percent of our energy use to come from renewable sources by 2025. In addition to protecting our environment, over 15,000 clean energy jobs have been created in this effort, with an additional billion dollars of economic activity. Through expansion of our successful wind and solar industries in the state, and retaining crucial incentives for these emerging technologies, I’m confident we can achieve a goal of 50 percent by 2030, as called for by Lt. Gov. Smith.

Create a special commission to project future workforce needs – An aging population, climate disruption, and rapid changes in technology – from driver-less cars to robotics used in all facets of production – are some of the changes that we can look forward to in the near future. Projecting the future workforce needed to keep pace with these changes is no easy task. A special commission could look at issues such as the occupations and industries facing the biggest challenges, connections between employers and secondary/post-secondary schools, and how government institutions will need to change with the times.

In closing, negotiations in the conference committees on the major omnibus bills have started.  These negotiations should be open to the public and I hope will allow maximum citizen input. As part of this, please stay in touch with me and share your viewpoints. Feel free to send me an email, write, or call me at the Capitol anytime.


Laurie Pryor

State Representative