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,

Representative Tony Jurgens
523 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155

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