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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Sondra Erickson (R)

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Legislative Update (3-24-16)

Thursday, March 24, 2016
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Blessings to you and your loved ones as we celebrate Easter and the coming of spring. May the season of renewal bring joy, happiness and much love into your lives.
The Legislature is on a long weekend break, but when we return deadlines begin for policy committees. 
Therefore it is very important to move a proposal that I introduced to provide relief for the Lake Mille Lacs area as they face the new fishing regulations announced by the DNR on Monday.
Here are the highlights of the new regulations:

All walleye must be immediately released

Anglers may use only artificial bait

They may not possess any other bait that is live, dead, frozen or processesed

Artificial bait such as Gulp is allowed

Only anglers targeting northern pike and muskies may possess and use sucker minnows longer than 8 inches
Night closure beginning Monday, May 16, from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. and continuing through Thursday, December 1st
Muskie anglers may fish at night but all baits, live or artificial in possession must be at least 8 inches long
You can find more information regarding this year’s regulations online at
The economic relief bill I introduced received its first hearing this week in the House Mining and Outdoor Recreation Committee where it passed and was referred to the House Jobs Committee.
The bill does the following:
Requires Mille Lacs County to develop and operate an economic relief program
Provides for grants, interest-free or forgivable loans, tourism promotion, or reimbursements for property tax abatements and refunds under the relief program
Authorizes Mille Lacs County to establish application requirements and to determine terms and duration for grants and loans
To qualify, a businesses must be located in the first ring of cities and towns surrounding the lake (which includes cities and towns lying within a 15 mile radius from the center of the lake), document a reduction in gross receipts in any two year period since 2010, and be a business in one of a list of business classifications
Authorizes Aitkin County, Crow Wing County, and Mille Lacs County to grant abatements to taxpayers who own businesses in the economic relief area
Appropriates $10 million per year to the program for three years, starting in fiscal year 2017
The program would expire in 2019
In other news, Governor Dayton released his supplemental budget proposal which calls for an additional $581 million in spending this year.
There are portions of the governor’s proposal that I can appreciate, especially $300,000 to market and promote the Mille Lacs area for tourism.
However, within his proposal, the governor yet again calls for a gas tax increase. This is especially frustrating considering the state’s sizable budget surplus.
Instead of growing government and taking more money from families through a historic gas tax, let’s focus on putting money BACK into family budgets.
Finally, last Thursday, the House passed a bill that will bring much needed unemployment relief to steelworkers on the Iron Range.
The bill would extend unemployment for an additional 26 weeks. In addition to the benefits extension, the legislation also reforms the state's unemployment insurance trust fund—which is currently carrying a nearly all-time high $1.6 billion balance.
Thanks to this reform, small business will be credited back funds that they had paid into the fund and will be able to reinvest in their employees and businesses.
That’s all for this week’s update. Please be sure to contact my office via email at or by phone at 651-296-6746 if you have any questions or comments related to state government. It would be great to speak with you.
Have a great weekend,