Tony’s Legislative Update (2/24/2017)

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By Rep. Tony Jurgens, 2/24/2017

Hello from the State Capitol,

Want to buy a case of beer or a bottle of wine on Sundays in Hastings or Cottage Grove? If so, you’ll be pleased to learn that the Minnesota House has approved legislation allowing Sunday liquor sales.

For 80 years, Minnesota has banned the sale of this legal product on Sundays, and because of it we lose an estimated $10 million in tax collections each biennium. Minnesota is currently one of 12 states with a prohibition on the sale of intoxicating beverages on Sundays, none of which border Minnesota.

Off-sale liquor sales are currently permitted between 8:00 AM and 10:00 PM Monday through Saturday. Under the House-approved bill, retailers could sell alcohol between 10:00 AM and 6:00 PM on Sundays, effective July 1, 2017, but the delivery or acceptance of alcohol to an off-sale retailer on Sundays would be prohibited.

Worth noting: this bill does not require liquor stores to operate on Sundays; it simply removes the legal prohibition against doing so.

My constituent correspondence has been overwhelmingly in favor of ending the ban. I made a point of contacting all of our district’s liquor store owners as well, and slightly more favored allowing Sunday sales than not, so I certainly felt comfortable with my ‘yes’ vote.

The Sunday liquor sales bill now heads to the Minnesota Senate for further debate.

Our state’s latest budget forecast is expected to be unveiled on February 28. That will be our most up-to-date guideline on Minnesota’s expected revenue collections and expenditures, which means we will soon begin focusing on setting the state’s budget for the next two years. I’ll share more about Minnesota’s economic outlook in a future update.

Meeting with constituents is truly the most enjoyable part of my job as your state representative, and I’m pleased to have visited with many recently.

Last week I visited with the residents and staff at the Hastings Veterans Home and learned more about their legislative concerns and how I can help.

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Community Visitor Day

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Community Visitor Day

Not long ago I also took part in St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Community Visitor Day in Hastings. Here, I’m pictured with 5th graders Madelyn Chandler and Derek Kelleher who served as my very kind hosts.

Decoding Dyslexia Minnesota at the Capitol

Decoding Dyslexia Minnesota at the Capitol

Corrie & Kyle Kropelnicki, along with their kids Kyler, Cadan & Karson visited with me in St. Paul this week taking part in Decoding Dyslexia Minnesota at the Capitol.

Minnesota’s athletic trainers also had their day at the Capitol.

Minnesota’s athletic trainers also had their day at the Capitol.

Minnesota’s athletic trainers also had their day at the Capitol, and I was pleased to sit down with Cottage Grove resident Aaron Benson.

Minnesota School Bus Driver Appreciation Day

Minnesota School Bus Driver Appreciation Day

Minnesota School Bus Driver Appreciation Day

Minnesota School Bus Driver Appreciation Day

Wednesday also marked Minnesota School Bus Driver Appreciation Day. Early that morning, I was able to meet with local drivers, aides, dispatchers and mechanics from the Hastings Bus Company in the City of Hastings and at the Denmark Township terminal to show my appreciation.

Alternative Learning Center Day at the Capitol

Alternative Learning Center Day at the Capitol

Finally, I had the pleasure of meeting with a pair of students from the St. Croix Alternative Learning Center as part of Alternative Learning Center Day at the Capitol. Afton constituent Sarah Breems and Nate Schnettler asked if they could meet with me briefly while they were here, but I asked them if they wanted to spend their entire two hours with me and I’m pleased they accepted. I was able to take them onto the House floor, have them sit in on several meetings and watch a few minutes of some committee meetings so they were able to learn more about the day-to-day happenings of a state lawmaker. I truly enjoyed it and I hope they did too.

As always, I am interested in your feedback. Please feel free to contact me by e-mail at rep.tony.jurgens@house.mn or contact my office at 651-296-3135.

Have a good weekend,
Tony

Representative Tony Jurgens
523 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155
651-296-3135
rep.tony.jurgens@house.mn

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Tony’s Legislative Update (2/17/2017)

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By Rep. Tony Jurgens, 2/17/2017

Hello from the State Capitol,

In response to numerous resident concerns about speed limit increases in the City of Hastings, I will be scheduling a meeting with Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) officials to discuss the situation.

I have been receiving many phone calls and emails about MnDOT’s decision to increase the speed limit on Highway 316 from Highway 61 to Tuttle Drive. These same concerns were being brought to me when I was door knocking last summer. It’s a well-traveled road that’s difficult to access from a side street and in spots has no place for people to walk. Increasing the speed limit here is just asking for trouble.

The speed limits are expected to take effect this spring, and the stretch of Highway 316 I’m referencing will jump from 35 to 40 miles per hour. A number of other speed changes in Hastings and near the city limits will also take place at this time.

I’m pleased the City of Hastings has been working closely with MnDOT. Its input was critical towards maintaining the speed limit near Roadside Park along Highway 55. I also think city officials were wise to fight these changes, particularly to maintain the 35 mile an hour speed limit on that stretch of Highway 316.

At this point, I think it’s important for me to reach out to MnDOT and see if there’s anything more that can be done. Increasing the speed limit won’t increase safety in this area. In fact, I’m convinced that doing so will only make it more dangerous.

tony-jurgens-hastings-creamery

A few days ago I had the pleasure of touring the Hastings Co-Op Creamery and find out more about this unique local business.

The creamery has been in place for more than 100 years and is a fixture in the community. Thank you for allowing me to visit and learn about your operation!

tony-jurgens-and-constituents

Cottage Grove constituents Angela Schroeder, Gerald Awenti and Grace Larsen also stopped by my office as part of Nursing Association Day at the Capitol. It was good to hear their thoughts on health care – thanks for visiting and sharing your input.

As always, if you are interested in scheduling an office visit in St. Paul, please call my office at 651-296-3135 and we will put you on the calendar!

Have a good weekend,
Tony

Representative Tony Jurgens
523 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155
651-296-3135
rep.tony.jurgens@house.mn

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Tony’s Legislative Update (2/10/2017)

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By Rep. Tony Jurgens, 2/10/2017

Hello from the State Capitol,

As nearly everyone is aware, next year’s Super Bowl will take place in Minneapolis, and with Super Bowl 51 now in the books Minnesota is on the clock as host for Super Bowl 52.

We’re expecting this event to draw hundreds of thousands to our state next February. In an effort to promote Minnesota and our outdoor heritage, I am authoring a bill that would waive a fishing license requirement throughout Super Bowl week.

Let’s face it, people outside of the Midwest think we’re nuts to drive out on a frozen lake in the middle of winter, cut a hole in the ice and try to catch a fish. There is a strong likelihood that a team’s fans from a warm-climate state will be making their first visit to Minnesota in order to watch the game. So why not encourage them to participate in the full Minnesota experience while they’re here?

The plan is also being received warmly by people connected to the “big game.” Minnesota Vikings Executive Vice President Lester Bagley recently said “We appreciate the effort by Representative Jurgens. Ice fishing is one of the many great outdoor activities that we would love our guests from around the world to experience when they visit Minnesota for Super Bowl 52.”

My hope is this bill will entice enough Super Bowl visitors to give ice fishing a chance, and once they discover how much fun it is they will return again and again.

I introduced the bill last week in the Minnesota House, and I’m looking forward to working with resort owners, Minnesota tourism officials, the Minnesota Vikings and the National Football League on this proposal.
The Minnesota House recently approved legislation that will allocate funds for the Rural Finance Authority (RFA) loan program. The 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.

With the RFA, borrowers make payments to repay the bonds so taxpayers aren’t on the hook; the State is just the conduit. The only way taxpayers are responsible is if there is a default, and in the life of the RFA, the default rate is nearly non-existent.

Basically, there was no money left in RFA, which is why we agreed to provide $35 million in bond proceeds to assist with RFA loans in the beginning farmer loan and seller assisted program, agricultural improvement program, debt restructuring program, and livestock expansion programs.

The legislation will now be debated in the Minnesota Senate.

Have a good weekend,
Tony

Representative Tony Jurgens
523 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155
651-296-3135
rep.tony.jurgens@house.mn

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Tony’s legislative update (2/2/2017)

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By Rep. Tony Jurgens, 2/2/2017

Hello from the State Capitol,

Governor Dayton recently outlined his budget recommendations to the legislature, and I believe the plan is too heavy on spending and tax increases, and too light on tax relief for hardworking Minnesotans.

I’m sure his target is simply a starting point, but when you want to increase government spending by nearly ten percent and raise taxes and fees in the face of a $1.4 billion surplus, that approach is going to be met with resistance.

Governor Dayton is proposing a $45.8 billion budget over the next two-year budget cycle, which represents a roughly a ten percent increase over the $41.5 billion Fiscal Year 2016-17 budget.

Despite Minnesota’s $1.4 billion surplus, the governor is also proposing a $1.4 billion tax increase on trips to the doctor by extending the provider tax, and $1.5 billion in new taxes and fees in the next biennium alone by increasing the gas tax, tab fees, the Metro area sales tax, new license/title surcharges, and more.

The people I’ve spoken with are expecting lawmakers to rein in our spending a bit and get the money back through some meaningful tax reform to middle class taxpayers. I expect our budget to come in significantly less than what the governor proposed, but hopefully he will once again join legislative leadership in working towards a workable budget compromise.

It was good to be out and about this week in both Hastings and Cottage Grove to hear from area residents. I had a good time working at the well-attended St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church pancake breakfast that took place at the Hastings Knights of Columbus hall, and was also pleased to take part in a ribbon cutting ceremony for Burggraf’s Ace Hardware and welcome its owners to Cottage Grove.

Back in St. Paul, I also had a nice visit with Hastings resident Debbie Pickle and volunteers from the Minnesota Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities.

They had traveled to the Capitol to advocate for legislation that will help improve the lives of disabled residents across the state.

Have a good weekend,
Tony

Representative Tony Jurgens
523 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155
651-296-3135
rep.tony.jurgens@house.mn

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