Greetings from St. Paul. Before we get to today’s official House business, I would like to congratulate Andy and Eunice Molitor of Rockville, who celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary on Feb. 9. You can’t help but smile when you read this article featuring the Molitors, from Andy’s dance moves to Eunice cherishing prayer, love and family! Congratulations again, Andy and Eunice, you are inspirations to us all.
Also, congratulations to the ROCORI dance team for recently qualifying for the state tournament at Target Center. Way to go, Rockettes!
Package to improve public safety in metro
At the Capitol this week, a press conference took place to roll out a “Safety in our Cities” package of five bills aimed at improving public safety in Minnesota communities. Among the proposals is one that I am authoring a bill to help ensure people who visit regional or statewide sports or entertainment facilities are protected by adequate numbers of peace officers.
We’ve heard from constituents firsthand the concerns about being downtown to attend events. This past summer, my family chose to attend a day game partly due to concerns about being downtown late in the evening. There have been horrific incidents just feet from the entrance to Target Field, across the street from US Bank Stadium, and near Allianz Field.
Over the past 20 years, there has been a 20-percent increase in the Minneapolis population. Meantime, she said, there has been a 22-percent decrease in sworn officers per 1,000 residents.
The bill I propose would identify a list of regional and statewide sports or entertainment facilities in the state and establish peace officer staffing standards for the protection of visitors to the designated facilities. Cities would be required to have adequate law enforcement at those venues, or risk losing Local Government Aid from the state.
Minnesota taxpayers should be able to attend the venues they helped build and pay for without fearing for their safety. My bill would help bring this issue into focus and make sure event attendees receive the protection they deserve.
The other four bills with separate authors in the “Safety in our Cities” package include:
Proposal to replenish farm loans is blocked
In other news, Minnesota House Democrats today unanimously voted against and blocked a House Republican proposal to allocate funds for a depleted loan program which aids farmers.
The Rural Finance Authority loan program will out of funds this Friday, according the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. House Republicans attempted to replenish those funds by $50 million to eliminate uncertainty for farmers and help them prepare for the upcoming growing season.
It is greatly concerning that our House could not come together to support farmers. Farmers are counting on this funding to help them recover from natural disasters, conduct upgrades and simply prepare for the upcoming growing season at a time extremely tight margins are squeezing them financially. Our state lost 330 dairy farms in 2019 alone and failing to replenish RFA funds may only add to that count.
RFA partners with agricultural lenders to provide low-cost financing to farmers on terms and conditions not otherwise available from other credit sources. The RFA portion of the loan is carried at a reduced interest rate to improve the cash flow of eligible farmers. RFA offer loans within the beginning farmer loan and seller assisted program, agricultural improvement program, debt restructuring program, and livestock expansion programs.
Look for more news from the Capitol soon. You also can tune into KASM (1150 AM) at 12:23 p.m. each Friday to hear my on-air appearances to discuss legislative issues.