It was a busy week in St. Paul as large finance and policy bills were debated and passed off the House floor. Additionally, action was taken on the avian flu crisis that has been sweeping across western and west central Minnesota.

House Takes Action on Avian Flu Crisis

Late last week, the House declared an urgency, suspending the rules to pass a bill that allocates emergency funds to the Department of Agriculture and Board of Animal Health in order to better prevent and respond to the avian influenza outbreak that has devastated Minnesota turkey flocks. I was happy to support this measure as the House unanimously approved the legislation.

This past Tuesday, the Senate took up the bill. Instead of passing the legislation and moving the bill to the Governor's desk for signature, the Senate DFL majority unfortunately added a provision to the bill that had nothing to do with the emergency at hand.

In an effort to pass a clean bill that did not include any new language unrelated to the crisis at hand, my colleagues in the House majority made a motion to suspend the rules again and pass a clean bill. Requiring a three fifths majority vote to suspend the rules, the effort failed due to lack of support from House Democrats. Because of this, we appointed a conference committee to work out the differences between the clean House version of the bill and the Senate version that now includes an unrelated provision.

I am disappointed that the Senate DFL chose to include this unnecessary and unrelated provision in their bill and delay these desperately needed funds to address the avian flu outbreak occurring across Minnesota.

Farmers and those helping with clean up need these funds now and I remain committed to standing beside our farmers as we work to bring an end to this outbreak.

Investing in our Roads and Bridges

On Tuesday evening, after hours of debate, the House passed the Road and Bridge Act of 2015, which is the major component of our comprehensive, future-oriented proposal for transportation improvements in Minnesota. The bill passed with bipartisan support on a vote of 73-59.

Our proposal invests $7 billion over the next decade without raising taxes. The ten-year approach prioritizes road and bridge infrastructure through:

  • Immediate repair of roads in Minnesota communities.
  • Highway improvements for commuters and commerce.
  • Reliable, long-term funding without raising taxes.

Over the next ten years, our proposal prioritizes repairing or replacing 15,500 lane miles for all roads and 330 bridges statewide. This is accomplished through the following investments:

  • $4.03 billion for state roads
  • $1.44 billion for county roads
  • $583 million for municipal roads
  • $282 million for small cities under 5,000, which would include 37 cities in District 12A
  • $139 million for Greater Minnesota bus services
  • $60 million for township roads & bridges

Additionally, under our proposal, the State of Minnesota would re-purpose existing revenue into a new fund called the Transportation Stability Fund. The revenue for this fund is already being generated from existing sales taxes on auto parts, the Motor Vehicle Lease sales tax, the rental vehicle tax and the sales tax on rental vehicles.

The overwhelming majority of constituents that I hear from want a solution to our state’s transportation needs without increasing their already heavy tax burden. That is why I am encouraged by our approach that invests $7 billion, over ten years, into Minnesota’s roads and bridges without raising taxes. These funds will repair or replace 15,000 lane miles and 320 bridges across the state.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker visited the Capitol this week. His message about reform, growth and safety was refreshing. I was impressed how sensible and down to earth he was. Thanks for visiting Governor Walker!

Thank you to Rick Ash, CEO of Ortonville Area Health Services, for coming to St Paul and speak in support if the HHS Bill that gives additional funding for the 79 Critical Hospitals (6 that are in 12A).

Staying in Touch

Thanking you for taking the time to read this week’s update. I will have more news for you next week as we will be taking up the House tax, education, health and human services, and other major bills over the course of the next week.

As always, please feel free to contact my office by phone at 651-296-4929 or via email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it to discuss any questions you may have regarding state government. I would love to speak with you about ways we can make Minnesota better. It is an honor and privilege to represent you and your family. I am here to be YOUR voice in St. Paul and it is a responsibility that I take very seriously.

Jeff

 

St. Paul, MN- Governor Mark Dayton signed House File 423 into law on Friday, March 27th. House File 423, chief authored by Rep. Jeff Backer (R-Browns Valley), allows ambulance medical directors to authorize staffing levels, and applies to ambulance services based in communities with populations of 2,500 or less. The bill will allow neighboring ambulance service to be from another state and to provide mutual aid for up to 12 hours per day.

“I am honored to have my first bill signed into law by Governor Dayton,” said Backer. “Thank you to the Governor and my colleagues in the House and Senate for their support of this important bill that will ensure that our rural communities have the capabilities to respond to an emergency situation in a timely manner.”

The bill passed unanimously in both chambers.

 
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