Hastings projects included in bonding proposal (4/15/2019)

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By Rep. Tony Jurgens, 4/15/2019

Hello from St. Paul,

The City of Hastings received some good news recently, as the Minnesota House Capital Investment Committee has included two bills I sponsored in its proposed $1.5 billion bonding proposal.

The bills would provide needed funding in order to help the city pay for construction costs relating to Highway 316 improvements as well as renovating its historic city hall building.

I’ve been working hard in the House to promote these projects so I’m pleased they were included in this capital investment plan. It’s definitely good news, but we still have a long way to go.

The Highway 316 project is moving forward as a result of an agreement I reached with MnDOT in 2017. My goal for the Highway 316 corridor agreement was to increase pedestrian safety, lower speeds and provide better ways to control traffic.

MnDOT’s plan, which has been endorsed by the Hastings City Council, would install roundabouts at Spiral Boulevard, as well as Tiffany and Tuttle drives, construct bike and pedestrian paths on both sides of the highway and add a center median.

The City has noted there is a roughly $1.5 million funding gap that needs to be rectified in order to complete the project. This bill would dedicate $1 million in general obligations bonds to help with construction costs relating to the creation of the bike and pedestrian paths along Highway 316.

The Hastings City Hall bill would provide $2 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. If approved, a $2.6 million investment from outside sources – such as the City of Hastings – would be needed in order to secure the state’s bonding proceeds.

So where do things go from here? A number of significant hurdles remain before this proposal could reach Governor Walz’s desk.

As there are dozens of projects included in the House capital investment bill, the Hastings proposals must first survive scrutiny from the House Ways and Means Committee as well as the full Minnesota House.

Then there’s the Minnesota Senate, which to date has shown no interest in moving a capital investment bill forward this year. Historically, the second year of the legislative biennium is recognized as the “bonding” year at the State Capitol. If the Senate does not agree to approve a capital investment bill this year, this House proposal will not move forward and the fate of the Hastings projects would have to wait until the 2020 session.

Despite the potential roadblocks, I’m pleased with the progress made with the Hastings bills in the Minnesota House. With both of my city hall and Highway 316 bills in the House capital investment plan, there is nothing more I can do on the House side other than continue to work with leadership and committee members to advocate for these projects then let the process play out. I am pleased House leadership recognized the importance of these bills, and my thanks go to the Hastings city officials who came to St. Paul and testified in favor of my proposals.

Not long ago, I did an interview with the South Washington County Telecommunications Commission regarding legislative issues. To watch the report, click here. (https://youtu.be/5s3-EbnqLAI)

To hear my most recent In Depth report on KDWA, please click here.(http://kdwa.com/wireready/indepthnews/16192_TonyJurgens_0410.mp3)

Congratulations to Ken Brittain on being named Cottage Grove Volunteer of the Year and thank you to everyone who volunteers their time to make our communities stronger. Ken’s list of involvement is a mile long including several boards and commissions we served on together.

Last week I joined Governor Tim Walz, Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan, and Senator Karin Housley at Stillwater High School to hear from students, faculty, school board and staff on a variety of topics including the Peer Helper program where students help counsel each other. A number of Afton students in our district attend Stillwater High School, so I was pleased to make the trip.

Hastings constituent Dean Birnstengel visited with Minnesota Utility Investors.

Nurses including Jolene from Hastings and Michele stopped by my office to discuss safety issues in the nursing profession.

Members of Teamsters Local 320 visited recently, including Alston Dutchin and Maureen Acosta from Cottage Grove.

Hastings constituents and LIUNA Minnesota & North Dakota Local 563 members Diane McClain and James Mackey visited last week on Building Trades Day at the Capitol.

Kyrsten Wagner and Alix Paularena, Carpenters Local Union 322 members from Hastings, dropped by as part of Building Trades Day at the Capitol.

Regions Hospital Emergency Room doctors Dr. Jacob, left, and Dr. Alan Okada from Cottage Grove were at the Capitol to talk about issues they face including identifying those doctor shopping for opiates, mental illness and workplace safety.

Finally, PANS/PANDAS affects as many as 1 in 200 kids, some more severe than others. Families affected by this neurological disorder gathered at the Capitol recently to ask for help.

This is treatable and reversible with awareness, diagnosis and proper medication. PANDAS is brought on by strep or another infection with a sudden onset of intense anxiety, mood swings, OCD, and tics. The child can go from no symptoms to appearing autistic, but this is not a form of autism. In some cases antibiotics can reverse the symptoms but in more severe cases costly IVIG treatments are needed. 20/20 did a segment on Parker, which you can watch here (https://abcn.ws/2JFTeKB). His parents Brian and Natalie are pictured. As an update, Parker has improved but not without symptoms – yet.

Talk to you soon,

Representative Tony Jurgens
351 State Office Building
St. Paul, MN 55155
E-mail: rep.tony.jurgens@house.mn

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Legislative Update (4/5/2019)

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By Rep. Tony Jurgens, 4/5/2019

Hello from the State Capitol,

This week, Governor Tim Walz gave his first State of the State Address in the Minnesota House. I was joined at the event by Hastings High School teacher Mike Harp.

Following the address, Mr. Harp and I attended a Capitol reception and had the opportunity to meet with Governor Walz. My thanks to Mr. Harp for making the trip to St. Paul!

In the Minnesota House, omnibus spending bills – which are the proposals that will fund state government over the next two years – are being brought forward by our Democratic House majority.

In the Education Finance Division where I serve, the bill has been reviewed and sent to its next committee. Their transportation funding proposal includes a 20-cent per gallon gas tax increase, which if my emails are any indication, is strongly opposed by drivers in Dakota and Washington counties. And I’m not quite sure what to say yet about the health and human services bill, as it is 998 pages long. I know some people in the past have complained loudly about the use of omnibus bills and their overall size; these folks should know a change in party leadership hasn’t changed the way business is conducted in the House one bit.

I will keep you updated on these proposals as they move forward.

On Monday, Ron Dermer, the Israeli Ambassador to the United States, visited Minnesota.

A reception in his honor was held at the Governor’s residence in St. Paul hosted by Gov. Walz and the First Lady Gwen Walz.

You also may recall I was honored to have been asked to visit a number of local schools in February to read to students as part of “I Love to Read” month. Well you can imagine my surprise when I received dozens of handmade thank you cards this week from the students at Pine Hill Elementary in Cottage Grove! My day was made!

During the visit, I read a chapter from my favorite book from when I was their age, and left them a copy to read if they were interested. I was pleased to learn several have done just that. My thanks again to those schools that gave me the opportunity to read to their students.

Have a good weekend,

Representative Tony Jurgens
351 State Office Building
St. Paul, MN 55155
E-mail: rep.tony.jurgens@house.mn

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