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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Shane Mekeland (R)

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The latest from the House

Friday, March 1, 2019


Dear Neighbor,

I mentioned in an email earlier this week that two gun bills were set for committee hearings in the House. On a party-line vote by members of the committee on public safety (with Democrats voting for the bills and Republicans voting against them), the bills have been moved along and remain in the mix to potentially be passed this session.

Just to be 100-percent clear, I firmly oppose these bills – and any others that would infringe on our Second Amendment rights – and will continue working against them. Click on these bill numbers to see the details of each: Background Check Bill HF 8 and Red Flag Bill HF 9.

State economic forecast

An updated economic forecast was issued for the state this week and it shows a budget surplus of around $1 billion on the bottom line. Revenue collections are down since the November forecast showed a $1.5 billion surplus. The report indicates:

“The projected balance for the upcoming biennium is $1.052 billion, which is $492 million less than the November forecast. Slower projected economic growth and lower observed collections compared to prior estimates result in a reduced revenue forecast throughout the budget horizon. A slightly lower expenditure forecast partially offsets the overall reduction to the projected balance. The trend of slower growth continues into the planning horizon with projected spending growth outpacing forecast revenue growth into FY 2022-23.”

The translation is simple: The state already has taken $1 billion too much from taxpayers and tax increases should not even be part of the discussion as we plan a new two-year state budget. Also, we need to set a responsible budget total and leave a cushion to protect us in case revenue continues to diminish.

Local project

As for other news, Sen. Mathews and I have introduced legislation to invest $20.1 million in state funding for infrastructure improvements to the Becker business park. The improvements are necessary to attract new businesses to the area, including the proposed $600 million Google data center to be built in the park.

In what would be one of the largest private economic development projects in Minnesota in years, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development estimates the initial construction would bring nearly 2,000 jobs to Sherburne County and 1,300 additional jobs statewide. At the data center in Becker, 50 full-time tech jobs would be created.

Sen. Mathews and I agree that, with changes at the Sherco power plant on the horizon, this development would bring much needed jobs and economic stability to our community. Upgrading the local infrastructure would open the door for new projects to be launched, helping make up for tax dollars that may otherwise be diminished through the loss of coal plants.

This property is uniquely situated and has piqued nationwide interest for development. But, before new forms of economic growth can take root in this area, the infrastructure has to be available to support it and that’s why we are coming forward with this proposal.

The project is a partnership between DEED, the City of Becker, Sherburne County, and Xcel Energy. Excel would sell Google the land and power the facility through renewable energy sources. Becker is in competition with other locations around the country, and the infrastructure improvements are essential to completing not only this project, but also attracting other businesses to the park. Xcel Energy has requested a decision on the proposal by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission by June 30.

House committees to meet in St. Cloud

Look for more news soon. I will be attending a joint hearing of House committees on jobs/economic development and early childhood 1 to 3 p.m. today at the Great River Regional Library in St. Cloud. I am on the committee related to jobs/economic development committee and may circle back to this meeting in an email next week.

Have a good weekend,



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