Greetings as we near the end of another busy week at the Capitol. Before I get to legislative issues, I want to send a shout-out to a couple of people in our district:
Congratulations to Erin O’Brien, who recently scored her 1,000th point for the Kimball Cubs girls basketball team. Erin reached the milestone in a victory over Pierz, making it a doubly sweet game. Nice job, Erin and the Cubs!
Also, hats off to Dan Miller, who recently was appointed chief deputy by Stearns County Sheriff Steve Soyka. Chief Deputy Miller previously held the same position in Meeker and has 22 years of law enforcement service, starting with the Cold Spring PD. Welcome aboard, Chief Deputy Miller and I want you to know you and your fellow law enforcement colleagues have my utmost respect and support.
At the Capitol this week, Gov. Tim Walz announced he was proceeding with efforts to challenge the Enbridge Line 3 replacement pipeline across the northern part of our state, disputing the unanimous decision by the Public Utilities Commission to grant the certificate of need for the pipeline.
Line 3 was installed in the 1960s and is deteriorating, operating at around half of its capacity of 760,000 barrels per day due to safety reasons. The new Line 3 could have a capacity of 844,000 barrels, stretching across Minnesota from Alberta to the Enbridge terminal in Superior, Wis. The project has met its requirements to begin construction (hence, the PUC’s unanimous decision), but this court filing undoubtedly will lead to more delays.
Just this week, the Star Tribune reported that safety officials are concerned by increased oil train traffic coming in from Canada. The article specifically cited “pipeline limbo” as a factor that is partially to blame for the increase in rail traffic. For those of us in District 13A, that increase in rail traffic caused by “pipeline limbo” pushes products that could be hauled by trains onto tractor trailers, which then increase traffic on our roadways – including those we travel here, such as Highway 23.
Our objective should be to transport goods in the safest, most efficient ways possible. With modern technology that is available, pipelines are the best way to move oil, limiting the amount of crude on our railroads and relieving added pressure from our highways. I am optimistic this project will advance, it just will not be as soon as many had hoped due to this legal challenge.
One of this week’s committee highlights was in Early Childhood, where a pair of pilot programs were discussed to address the shortage of childcare providers in Minnesota. This is a great idea because the lack of child care providers in our state is causing real problems for families. It is concerning that both of the pilot programs leave out Greater Minnesota. Go ahead and assess the needs of the Twin Cities area, but let’s also take a look at our needs out here, where our child care desert in Greater Minnesota also is contributing to a shortage of skilled workers and the young families we need for stability.
I will be back with more news from St. Paul soon. Until then, I hope you will tune in to hear me on local radio Friday, when I will be on both KASM 1150 AM (12:30 with Joe Gill) and WJON 1240 AM (12:40 p.m. with Jim Maurice) over the noon hour.
As always, keep sending me your input. I submitted a letter to the editor to area newspapers this week with a closer look at some of the constituent services I can provide. Check the papers for that, or click here to see it on my official House website.