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

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Legislative Update (4-29-16)

Friday, April 29, 2016

Dear Neighbors,

It was a busy week in St. Paul as much of our time this week was spent on the House floor debating and voting on a number of supplemental omnibus bills.

K-12 and Higher Education Bill

As a former educator and chair of the Education Innovation Policy Committee, I am proud of what we were able to accomplish with this year’s supplemental education bill—which was approved by the House on Monday.

Included in the bill are a number of key reforms and innovative new programs that will work to improve Minnesota’s schools and help to close the state’s achievement gap.  Highlights include:

  • $7.7 million to end a fundamental disparity in revenue between metro and non-metro school districts
  • $6 million to support early childhood learning and literacy
  • $14.6 million to increase the number of new and diverse teachers and to provide continuing education for current teachers

In addition to funding, the bill contains a number of policy provisions including:

  • The creation of a 12 member study group of legislators to look into the Legislative Auditor’s report on the Board of Teaching
  • Requiring the Department of Education to develop a security plan to ensure the safety of student’s private data
  • Improvements to Innovation Zones to allow for the flexibility of new ideas to be implemented in schools and classrooms
  • Increasing local control of revenue to meet local needs and priorities

Mille Lacs Relief Bill Included in Jobs Bill

A provision I authored that will provide economic relief for the Mille Lacs area was passed as a part of the Jobs, Agriculture, and Environment omnibus bill on Wednesday.

This provision, establishes an economic relief program for businesses in the Lake Mille Lacs area affected by a decline in walleye fishing in the lake, authorizes property tax abatements for qualifying businesses, and refunds the state general levy on commercial/industrial and seasonal resort property in the 14 cities and towns surrounding the lake.

While nothing can truly replace the economic boost that the walleye fishing industry brings to our area, this relief package will help reduce the economic impact of this year’s walleye ban. I am grateful for the support of my colleagues and am hopeful that we will be able to work together with the DNR and the Ojibwe bands to return Lake Mille Lacs to a natural habitat that is best for all species, but most of all to a habitat that results in the prolific production of walleye every year.

Click here to hear comments from Jobs Committee Chair, Rep. Pat Garofalo, regarding Lake Mille Lacs.

Also included in the Jobs bill is funding for Mille Lacs area tourism.

Health and Human Services, State Government Finance, and Public Safety

The final supplemental omnibus bill that was passed this week was the Health and Human Services, State Government Finance, and Public Safety bill. The bill does the following:

  • Puts an end to MNsure by transitioning Minnesota to the federal exchange
  • Captures waste, fraud, and abuse savings for public programs and directs that money to long-term and community-based caregivers
  • Repeals child care unionization authority and includes reforms to improve child care accessibility and affordability
  • Eliminates non-essential travel and reduces salaries for top Dayton administration executives

Staying in Touch

Thank you to the folks from Pease who testified in the Capital Investment Committee this week in support of House File 2702—a bill for a water tower and an emergency system for the small city.

Traveling to the capitol were Mayor Diane Kiel, Jeff Hansen, city administrator, Tim Korby, city engineer, and Richard Baker, Mille Lacs County economic development director. Pease is in dire need of a siren because when there is a weather alert the city officials must go house to house in this town of 200 to tell residents to be ready.

That’s all for this week’s update. As always please be sure to contact me if you have any questions or concerns. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-6746 or via email at

Have a great weekend,