The 2018 legislative session is open for business (2/23/2018)

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By Rep. Tony Jurgens, 2/23/2018

Hello from St. Paul,

The big news of the week centers on the State’s $850 million settlement with 3M regarding water contaminated with perflurocarbons (PFC) in the East Metro. I’ve joined area lawmakers at several different meetings since the announcement to learn more, ask questions, and determine priorities.

One of those gatherings happened Wednesday with representatives from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Department of Health, and Department of Natural Resources to discuss how this would affect impacted communities like Cottage Grove. I asked directly if Cottage Grove would be reimbursed for expenses related to installation of water filtration systems and other cleanup efforts as a result of groundwater contamination, and was told that settlement funds would be used for this purpose. This is positive news. Today I also attended a legislative meeting with Cottage Grove city officials to hear their thoughts on the 3M news and other priorities.

Coming up this Thursday, the Minnesota House Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee has scheduled a hearing with the MPCA and the DNR to learn more about the settlement. I look forward to the discussion.

As you may have heard, the 2018 legislative session is open for business and we’ve already hit the ground running.

Last session was one of the most productive in recent history. Our $650 million middle-class tax relief proposal is the largest of its kind in 20 years. It includes Social Security tax relief for senior citizens, a first-in-the-nation tax credit for college student loan payments, property tax relief for every small business owner as well as farmers facing school bond referendums, and improved dependent care tax credits for working middle-class families.

The Legislature also made the largest investment in roads and bridges in a decade, putting billions of dollars over the next ten years towards the state’s transportation needs without raising gas taxes or license tab fees. And we balanced the state’s budget.

So what’s left to do in 2018? Plenty.

Determining how our state should respond to federal tax conformity and our failing MNLARS licensing system will be at the top of our to-do lists, as will continuing our work to bring down costs and improve access to better health care for Minnesotans.

We will also likely approve a capital investment bill that will fund construction projects throughout the state, and I’ll be fighting hard for two provisions that deserve inclusion in the comprehensive proposal.

The first is my bill that would help construct the Health and Emergency Response Occupations (HERO) Center in Washington County. This would allocate $9.7 million in state bonding proceeds towards the construction of this law enforcement training center. The rest of the cost would be paid for by the cities of Cottage Grove and Woodbury.

There is clearly a need for a training facility in our area, and this project is shovel-ready. As long as there’s local support behind this project, I will fight for it at the state level.

I’m also sponsoring legislation that would rehabilitate and preserve the Hastings City Hall and police station buildings. It would provide $1.5 million in bonding proceeds to repair masonry, replace dome cupola roofs and decorative metal, make HVAC improvements and work on the foundation, among other needs. This building is a prominent part of Hastings’ historic downtown and having been around for nearly 150 years, it’s an asset worth preserving.

I will be sure to keep you updated on the progress of these proposals as session moves forward.

Congratulations are in order to the Hastings United Way for moving into its new home in downtown Hastings. The United Way is now located in the former Meyer Co. building on 2nd Street in Hastings.

Next week, lawmakers are expected to hear our most updated budget forecast. I will let you know what the figures are as soon as I receive them.

Talk to you soon,
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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Town meetings tomorrow (2/16/2018)

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By Rep. Tony Jurgens, 2/16/2018

Hello from St. Paul,

Just a quick reminder that we’re less than a day away from my town meetings! I’m hoping you’ll be able to take some time and join me at one of the following locations tomorrow, Saturday, February 17:

Hastings City Hall, 101 4th St. East, 8:30-9:30 a.m.

Cottage Grove City Hall, Training Room, 12800 Ravine Parkway South, 10:00-11:00 a.m.

Afton City Hall, 3033 St Croix Trl S, 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

I hope to see you there!
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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The future of Highway 316 in Hastings (2/14/2018)

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By Rep. Tony Jurgens, 2/14/2018

Hello from St. Paul,

There was a fantastic turnout in Hastings last night as interested residents gathered to hear from MnDOT about the future of Highway 316 in the south end of the city.

You may recall that after hearing from many concerned residents in the area last year, I authored a bill that prevented speed limits from being raised on Highway 316 from Highway 61 to just north of Tuttle Drive.

Eventually MnDOT offered to develop a public involvement plan that seeks input from community members and businesses on the design of the 2021 Highway 316 resurfacing project, as well as recognizing the need to work with City staff to evaluate safety options for the area. When MnDOT added the safety provision, I agreed to the terms as resident safety was the sole reason I drafted the legislation in the first place.

Last night’s meeting was the first step in the community engagement process, and really the first step towards making needed improvements on this highway. I did sense some frustration among residents as they were expecting to learn what MnDOT’s solution is, but in reality this meeting was designed to give residents the opportunity to suggest what that solution should be.

I thought MnDOT was receptive and am hopeful that the department will give careful consideration to the feedback. My thanks to the City of Hastings for its work and all the residents who attended the meeting. I’ll be sure to keep you updated as to when MnDOT plans its next gathering.

Speaking of gatherings, I will be holding three town meetings this Saturday, February 17, and I hope you can join me. They’ll be held at the following locations:

Hastings City Hall, 101 4th St. East, 8:30-9:30 a.m.

Cottage Grove City Hall, Training Room, 12800 Ravine Parkway South, 10:00-11:00 a.m.

Afton City Hall, 3033 St Croix Trl S, 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

I hope to see you there!
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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Resident health is most important when it comes to our drinking water (2/8/2018)

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By Rep. Tony Jurgens, 2/8/2018

Hello from St. Paul,

Not long ago, I shared information with you regarding a lawsuit the Attorney Generals’ office had filed against 3M relating to its disposal of perfluorochemicals (PFCs), and the contamination of local groundwater and drinking water that occurred due to its action.

Yesterday the Minnesota Department of Health contacted me and announced it was going to release findings of a study that analyzed cancer incidence in our area due to PFCs in our water. According to MDH scientists, after reviewing an expanded set of cancer data for the region, they did not find unusual rates of adverse birth outcomes or certain cancers.

MDH scientists examined vital records data for low birth weight and prematurity in babies born to mothers in PFC-affected east metro communities in three time periods: 2001-2005, 2006-2010 and 2011-2015. They compared data from those areas to data from unaffected communities in the rest of Washington County and the metro region. While they found a lot of variation in those outcomes – with some higher rates and some lower rates of negative health outcomes – MDH said the variation was within the range that would be expected.

MDH has not collected public health data on other types of potential health effects of PFCs reported in the scientific literature, such as liver and kidney effects, thyroid disease and immune system changes. While MDH’s water guidance values protect against all of these effects, data on their occurrence in people are not available.

I view this news as positive, as resident health is most important when it comes to our drinking water. That said, my thoughts on 3M have been very clear – the company must pay for any and all remediation costs for which it is responsible. The MDH findings do not change that opinion.

In other news, Hastings residents who were concerned about the proposed speed limit increase on Highway 316 last year have a chance to make their voices heard.

You may recall that in part of the agreement I reached with MNDOT on this topic last year was that the department hold an open house to discuss safety concerns.

That meeting is now scheduled for Tuesday February 13th from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm at Crossroads Church in Hastings. I hope to see you there!

I’ve also been touring local schools over the past few weeks. Recently I visited Armstrong and Hillside Elementary Schools, Cottage Grove Middle School and Park High School in the South Washington County District.

I also visited Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton and JFK Elementary in Hastings, as well as the Hastings Middle School and High School.

As a member of the House K-12 Education Finance Committee, it’s helpful to visit the schools and see our teachers and students in action. My thanks to the superintendents, staff and students for setting things up and allowing me to visit!

I was also pleased to meet with Hastings High School students Sydney Radke and Addie Buck recently to present them with Minnesota House resolutions that recognized them for their life saving actions after finding a local resident unresponsive in his driveway.

These young ladies are heroes, and deserve every accolade they’re receiving for their quick response.

Talk to you soon,
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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