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

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Keeping government open is not a "publicity stunt"

Friday, July 1, 2011
Dear Neighbors, At 10pm Thursday night, with two hours remaining to find a solution, Governor Dayton called a press conference to announce a state government shutdown. Needless to say, I am extremely disappointed. Earlier in the day, the governor dropped his call for a tax increase, and for a while real progress was made that would have kept government open. Republicans made him an offer that increased spending by more than $700 million, primarily in health and human services, which had been a major concern for the governor. In response, the governor rejected that offer and re-instated his request for a tax increase. This was a huge step backwards. Tax increases were the biggest sticking point in negotiations, and when the governor removed them that was a huge step forward. His sudden change of heart broke the trust among negotiators, and his announcement later that he was insisting on the tax increase guaranteed a shutdown. We also gave the governor a bill to keep government open for the next 10 days. We felt this “lights-on” bill would give us enough time to work out what, at that point, we felt was a very small divide remaining. The governor rejected it, calling it “a publicity stunt.” I don’t think a bill to keep 22,000 state employees working, keep transportation projects going, and keep state parks open is a publicity stunt. Since we are now in a shutdown, here is a list of what is open and closed. This list will likely change as the court hears different petitions, so I will update you with any changes. BUSINESS PERMITTING State agencies stop processing business permits or registering new enterprises. No tax refunds would be issued. CITIES/COUNTIES Local Government Aid payments continue. COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES The University of Minnesota and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities remain open and have enough funding to operate for the next few months. COURTS Open. DRIVER AND VEHICLE SERVICES Offices closed and no driver tests available, but you may renew license plates and licenses at city and county offices. EDUCATION Public schools are deemed a core service (state payments are not specifically mentioned in court order). HEALTH Health Dept. staff could respond to a disease outbreak, operate the Poison Control Center and conduct limited food inspections. Medicaid, MFIP, General Assistance, MN Supplemental aid, Group Residential Housing, MN Care, Food Support, Food Assistance, Adoption Assistance continue. HEALTH CARE FACILITIES Nursing Homes, residential academies, state hospitals remain open. HIGHWAY REST STOPS Closed. HISTORICAL SITES, MUSEUMS The Minnesota Historical Society's 26 historic sites and museums close. HUMAN SERVICES Food stamps and welfare benefits continue. HUNTING, FISHING LICENSES Will not be issued. DNR officers continue enforcement. JOB TRAINING CENTERS Closed. LOTTERY Closed. MILITARY The Department of Veterans Affairs will keep veterans homes open, along with critical assistance programs and the state Veterans Cemetery. Tuition reimbursement claims stop and veterans' outreach claims offices close. Camp Ripley will keep support staff for scheduled military training. Guard members training for deployments are on federal active-duty status and will not be affected. MINNESOTA MANAGEMENT & BUDGET Minimal employees needed to maintain employee insurance, payroll, HR management and other budget functions continue. POLUTION CONTROL AGENCY Will respond to environmental emergencies, maintain safety and health-related equipment at certain closed landfills and other cleanup sites, and would notify citizens of an air quality alert. PUBLIC SAFETY State Patrol, crime labs, Homeland Security, stay open. Most prison employees retained. RACE TRACKS Canterbury Park and Running Aces will not be allowed to run races. SCIENCE MUSEUM The Science Museum of Minnesota remains open. STATE PARKS Closed. Campers with reservations between Thursday and July 14 can cancel them beginning at 8 a.m. Monday and avoid standard cancellation fees. To do so, they should call 1-866-857-2757. STILLWATER LIFT BRIDGE Closed to vehicle traffic, unless an appeal by legislative leaders is approved. TAXES Revenue tax processing continues. No refund checks issued. Tax court closed. TRANSPORTATION Most state-funded road construction projects stop (an estimated 200), except for emergency repairs. The Metropolitan Council can use its reserves to keep buses and rail lines operating for at least a month. The Minnesota Valley Transit Authority, which operates many south-metro bus lines, plans to keep buses rolling with reserve funds for up to 60 days. UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS Unemployment claims, benefit payments, and collections continue. WORKERS Workers comp claims and benefits activities processed. Workers comp appeals court closed. ZOOS Minnesota Zoo is closed. Como Park Zoo and Conservatory stays open. Erickson can be reached by phone at (651) 296-6746. She can also be contacted via e-mail at, or via U.S. Mail at 509 State Office Building, St. Paul, MN 55155. --30—
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