By Rep. Tony Jurgens, 2/21/2020
Hello from St. Paul,
This week, House Republicans unveiled a comprehensive plan that’s designed to keep Minnesotans safe by combating crime and giving law enforcement the support officers need in order to better protect the public.
There’s little doubt that crime, particularly violent crime, is on the rise in the Twin Cities.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune recently reported that two thirds of neighborhoods in Minneapolis saw an increase in overall crime in 2019—including a 70 percent spike in the Minneapolis Downtown East neighborhood. 2019 saw an all-time high in serious crimes committed on Metro Transit Light Rail, and St. Paul saw a doubling in the homicide rate in 2019, much of it connected to gang violence.
In addition, Minnesota’s Violence Crime Enforcement Teams saw major increases in the amounts of meth, heroin, and cocaine compared to 2018—much of it being trafficked by gangs and produced and smuggled into the United States by Mexican drug cartels.
To combat this issue, we’ve unveiled a series of proposals designed to improve public safety. They include more funding for the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) for gang and drug trafficking efforts; strengthened penalties for gang members who use firearms in a crime; increased enforcement of light rail fare evasion, more officers for Metro Transit police, and interactive cameras installed on light rail platforms.
While it’s true that inner city crime does not have a direct impact on East Metro communities, many local residents travel to Minneapolis and St. Paul for any number of reasons: to dine, take in a ball game, or attend the theater, to name a few. They deserve to feel safe if they’re walking around the downtown areas or riding the light rail. It’s an issue that affects us all. If you want to hear what a light rail operator deals with on a daily basis, watch this.
I have seen first-hand the challenges being faced by those in the law enforcement community. Ride-alongs with Hastings, Cottage Grove, and Roseville police and Dakota and Washington County deputies have shown me that no two calls or traffic stops are ever alike. Those who keep us safe always deserve our support. Approving these public safety proposals would be a step in that direction.
Now that we are back in St. Paul, constituent visits are on the rise, which is always good to see.
Mark Gallagher from Cottage Grove distributed information for Minnesota Brain Injury Alliance. Mark has been an advocate for those who have suffered from traumatic brain injury.
Amy Zellmer is Editor-in-Chief of The Brain Health Magazine. She stopped by to deliver a copy of her magazine and to visit about possible legislative ideas.
I had the good fortune of sitting with Hastings Chamber members Derrick Jaeger, Naomi Senter, Kristy Barse & Kellie Akin at the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce Session Priorities gathering. The statewide chamber is pushing for tax competitiveness, health care, workplace management, and more.
You might remember Mark Zuzek as the Hastings Middle School principal, but for the last year and a half he has been Superintendent at Intermediate School District 917 which is a specialty school district that provides defined student services in the areas of special education, area learning centers, career technical programs and online learning. Minnesota has 4 intermediate school districts that serve more than 20,000 students. Mr. Zuzek took me on a tour last week at two ISD-917 locations where they shared amazing results with their students.
Janet and John Bremer, dairy farmers from Nininger Township near Hastings were at the Capitol with Minnesota Milk Producers. They joined me in the House chamber during our floor session to talk about dairy issues.
I attended a Dakota-Scott Workforce Development discussion with other legislators to discuss workforce issues. Minnesota has high workforce participation, low unemployment and too many young people moving out of state which results in hiring challenges for growing Minnesota businesses.
Have a good weekend,
Representative Tony Jurgens
351 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55155