We had a good group and some lively discussion. One man expressed his disappointment that the legislature did not pass a transportation bill. He said businesses have expressed strong support for improving our infrastructure if Minnesota is to remain competitive. He suggested that the legislature pass the major bills two weeks before the end of session to avoid the ending that just occurred.
Another man opposed the funding of the light rail project because he thought it was too expensive to build and to maintain. He thought the gas receipts should show the amount of state and federal taxes that were paid.
On the topic of transportation, a third man said it is critical to cut down on fossil fuels if we are to minimize the climate change.
The 2016 Session ended about 11:57 p.m. on May 22, 2016 amidst a clamor of representatives still trying to be recognized. Part of the fury had to do with the fact that the Bonding Bill was made available about 11:15 p.m. this gave the DFL representatives little time to digest the revised bill. The DFL Caucus went out into the hallway to discuss the bill, once it was determined that there were a number of significant projects included,the members returned to the Chamber to vote. The Bonding Bill needs a super majority to pass. The bill passed and was sent to the Senate. The Senate added an amendment and planned to return the bill to the House. However, since the House had adjourned early and could not vote on the amended bill and the Senate’s efforts to take off the amendment took too much time, the bill was not viable.
Earlier in the day, the Tax Bill, HF 848, passed 123-10. It does include the Burnsville TIF provision that I carried. This will provide the city with resources to prepare the landfill property for development.
But at the end of the day, the Republican majority did not present a comprehensive Transportation Bill and they fumbled on the Bonding Bill. The majority party has control over bills getting out of committee as well as being heard on the floor.
Given that Minnesota has a healthy surplus, it is disappointing to see so little get done when there are so many needs to be addressed. There were so many missed opportunities!
There is a possibility that the Governor could call the legislature back to get the Bonding Bill done. The Bonding Bill covers a lot of projects across the state, and the fact that our infrastructure is aging out is a problem that should be taken care of as soon as possible.
Today, the House of Representatives took up legislation on Real ID Implementation. Senate File 3589 was the bill that was actually placed before us. The Senate had passed their bill and it seemed to be a workable bill that addressed some of the challenges this legislation has. One of which is heeding the timeframe that the agency charged with the implementation says is realistic.
However, Representative Smith, the author of the bill had an amendment to insert the House language into the bill and the House Majority supported him. The House language had several controversial and unnecessary components. In addition, there were some additional amendments added. I voted for the bill, because it had a two-tiered system and it will mean the bill will move on to a conference committee. The two-tiered system means that people who are uncomfortable with the Real ID card have another option they can use. So long has people can choose, it makes no sense to bog the bill down with unnecessary items. Hopefully, the conference committee will come up with a compromise that will enable us to get the job done. We need to be finished by Sunday evening.
On May 16, the House passed a bill that will require the Metropolitan Landfill Contingency Action Trust (MLCAT) to be managed to maximize long-term gain through the State Board of Investment (SBI). MLCAT is to provide funding for “necessary and reasonable care” at sites that have closed. Currently the fund has been earning 0.5% interest and the expectation is that it will be earning 4.5% under the new arrangement.
I had introduced HF 2723 at the beginning of this session to accomplish this increase and Senator Jim Carlson has the Senate companion. Representative Denny McNamara, the Chair of the Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee introduced an identical bill, HF 2481 shortly afterwards and it has no Senate companion. This is the bill that Representative McNamara presented yesterday. I am a coauthor on this bill.
Last year, Representative McNamara had legislation to drain some of the money out of the landfill accounts. Fortunately, Governor Dayton vetoed the Environment Bill and changes were made to replace the taking from the surplus later that year.
The money in the account comes from landfill fees, so when emergencies arise, there will be resources available to help correct the problems. From recent experience, we know the corrections are very expensive.
“Beyond B0llywood” exhibit opened at the Minnesota History Center on May 1. It is a very extensive exhibit on the history of the people of India who came to the United States. It has integrated an exhibit from the Smithsonian with exhibits created by people who moved to Minnesota.
The opening festivities included a drummer, dancer, and a vocal performance. When the time came to enter the exhibit, candles were lit, the ribbon was cut and red dots were placed on the foreheads as people entered. The lighting of the lamp invokes knowledge.
The dresses and tapestry are so lovely! There are some very interesting musical instruments. The history is particularly well-documented on the people who came to Minnesota. It identifies many of the achievements of the original immigrants as well as the second generation. It also shows some of the challenges some of the early arrivals faced. A lot of work went into the exhibit and it helps us know more about our neighbors. There are a number of events scheduled as part of the exhibit.
Superintendent Joe Gothard delivered the State of the District Address at Burnsville High School on the evening of April 5. #Burnsville Strong Students were at the doors to greet people as they came in. Rahn Elementary and Eagle Ridge Junior High Strings did a very nice job of providing musical entertainment prior to the the program.
The superintendent’s main focus was on giving details of Vision One91. The construction at the High School is evident as you approach the campus, but there are changes going on in other schools as well. New programs and technology are also part of the changes going on to prepare students for the future. Pathways is a new model to help high school students plan for college and career. One category is Arts, Global Communications, and Information Systems. Another is Design, Engineering, & Manufacturing Technologies. Six students gave there perspectives on what they liked about their educational experiences in the district. Looks like a lot of exciting things are happening in the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District!
It has been another very busy week. In addition to heavy committee schedules, there have been numerous visitors. One group representing School Nutrition programs talked about the ways they are working in I.S.D. 191 schools to encourage students to eat foods that are nutritious so they develop healthy eating habits, and this also helps them focus better in school. Howling for Wolves folks explained their concern about the changing policies dealing with wolves makes the wolves more vulnerable. Yesterday was Muslim Day at the Capitol. My visitors shared that Muslims are found in every one of our 134 legislative districts. The Muslim Community operates seven food shelves and three free clinics that are open to all.
Today I met with a woman who explained the harvesting of human organs in China and believes we should be actively opposing this practice. It is a horrendous activity. She said that many Chinese students come to Minnesota to get their medical degrees, so that is one connection. Please contact me if you would like her to provide information to you. Books she recommended were State Organs Transplant Abuse and Bloody Harvest.
In today’s Session, we finally passed a bill that will extend benefits to the miners. It took a long while to get to this stage because the House Republican Majority seemed to be adverse to having a clean bill.
Legislators return on Tuesday, March 29th.
On Saturday evening, I attended the Eagan Theater Company’s performance of Audition For Murder at Royal Cliff. It was a fun evening. The food was very good and the performance was very entertaining. The play involved people from the audience as well as the company actors. The story is about a producer, portrayed by Mike Obermueller, trying to prepare for a movie.
One last performance is on Sunday, February 14.
I attended the gymnastic meet at the Sports Pavilion on Saturday. The University of Minnesota hosted Maryland. Goldy was also there to cheer on the team. Lots of enthusiasm and it was fun watching very talented young women compete. The Gophers did win!
Afterwards, the team members have a table where they sign autographs and talk with their fans. A great way for the team to interact with their fans, especially since there were quite a few young gymnasts present.
Winter Dreams was the title of the program performed by The Eagan Women of Note on Sunday afternoon. It had a marvelous selection of songs, some were old favorites and some that I don’t recall hearing before. “The Seal Lullaby” and “Walking in the Air” were new to me and they are lovely. ( You can search for “Walking in the Air” and find a version where the tune is used as background to an illustration of a little boy flying with a snowman to the North Pole.) “White Christmas” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” were also on the venue. Santa Claus was there, too.
I took my five-year old granddaughter and she said she liked all the songs. I definitely agree. The program was taped by Eagan Television, so you should be able to see it on local access channels. For more information and to hear a few of the songs performed, go to: www.eaganwomenofnote.org