Senator Ingebrigtsen, Representative Nornes and Representative Franson to hold Town Hall Meetings

(ST. PAUL, MN) – State Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen (R-Alexandria) Representatives Bud Nornes (R-Fergus Falls) and Mary Franson (R-Alexandria) will be hosting several town hall meetings to listen to concerns and ideas from constituents. Everyone is invited to attend.

The schedule for the town hall meetings is as follows:

Fergus Falls Town Halls Town Hall
Tuesday, March 31, 8:15-9:15 AM
Viking Cafe- 203 W Lincoln Ave, Fergus Falls MN 56537
(218)-736-6660

Pelican Rapids Town Hall
Tuesday, March 31, 10:00-11:00 AM
Pelican Rapids Library-25 W Mill Ave, Pelican Rapids MN 56572
(218)-863-7055

Battle Lake Town Hall
Tuesday, March 31, 12:15-1:00 PM
Shoreline Restaurant-505 Lake Avenue North, Battle Lake MN 56515
(218)-864-5265

Henning Town Hall
Tuesday, March 31, 1:45 PM–2:45 PM
Henning City Hall- 612 Front Street, Henning 56551
(218)-583-2402

Alexandria Town Hall
Tuesday, March 31, 3:45 PM–5:00 PM
Travelers Inn 511 Broadway St, Alexandria MN 56308
(320)-763-4000

Constituents wishing to find out more information or contact Senator Ingebrigtsen can do so by calling (651) 297-8063, by emailing him at sen.bill.ingebrigtsen@senate.mn , or by sending mail to his Senate office at 143 State Office Building Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN, 55155.

Rep. Mary Franson (08B) – Legislative Update

Dear Neighbor,

Thank you to those of you who took time to come to the Capitol this week to visit with me about issues that are important to you. If you are planning on being in St. Paul in the near future, please do not hesitate to contact me to set up a time to visit. I would love to meet with you!

Bill Authorizing the Production of Industrial Hemp Clears First Committee

My bill, House File 683, which would authorize the production of industrial hemp and establish a state regulatory structure for its production, received its first hearing and was passed by the Agriculture Policy Committee on Wednesday with bipartisan support.

I am excited that this pro-jobs bill passed through the Ag Policy Committee with such broad support. Minnesota has an opportunity to be on the cutting edge of an emerging industry that will have exceptional benefits for Greater Minnesota and our state as a whole. Not only would it open new opportunities for farmers and those in the agriculture industry, it would move our state toward allowing for local sourcing of many products made from hemp fibers. These fibers can be used in textiles, rope, food, clothing, paper, insulation, and building materials.

Protecting our Most Vulnerable

On Monday, House File 8, was debated by the House and passed on a unanimous 130-0 vote. HF 8, authored by Rep. Ron Kresha, makes policy changes to Minnesota’s child protection system. The changes in this bill are two of the recommendations that came from the Governor’s 26 person task force on child protection that was assembled last year following the tragic killing of 4 year-old Starbuck resident Eric Dean.

The bill contains two provisions:

•Places child health and safety as the paramount concern when making child protection decisions.

•Reverses a law passed in 2013 that barred consideration of screened-out reports in investigating abuse reports

This bill is strictly a starting point and there is still a lot of work that needs to be done to reform our state’s child protection laws and systems. I am hopeful that my colleagues and I will continue working to see that these laws are reformed in such a way to ensure that the safety of Minnesota’s children is the top priority when dealing with instances of domestic abuse.

February Forecast Numbers Released

Today, legislators received information on the February budget forecast. This budget forecast is important because it gives the legislature a better understanding of the financial situation of the state and helps us craft a budget.

The Office of Minnesota Management & Budget (MMB) revealed that the state now has a nearly $1.9 billion dollar surplus. The same report indicated that the surplus is in large part due to the fact that cheaper oil allows consumers to spend more money on non-gasoline related purchases. Also, if inflation were factored in, the surplus number would likely be smaller.

Today’s news proves that hardworking Minnesotans are over-taxed. Last biennium, Democrats raised taxes by $2.1 billion dollars. So is it really any wonder that we have a surplus? Remember, surpluses come from hardworking taxpayers, not the government.

I am committed to seeing that Minnesotans are able to keep more of their hard-earned money and that our priorities match those that matter most to Minnesotans.

Aging and Long Term Care Committee Visits Faribault

On Friday, the Aging and Long Term Care Committee had an official hearing in Faribault. The hearing, which was held at the Faribault Senior Center, gave local residents the opportunity to testify and share their stories with committee members.

We heard from a number of nursing home and care facility employees and directors who told the committee of the struggles they have in finding and retaining care-givers.

Many of the testimonies were emotional and reinforced the issues that our rural nursing homes are facing on a daily basis.

I am hopeful that their needs will be prioritized as the budget continues to come together. These care givers are heroes and they deserve to be a priority.

Staying in Touch

As always, please feel free to contact me via e-mail at Rep.Mary.Franson@House.MN or contact my office at 651-296-3201. You can also send mail to my office address: 517 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155.

Sincerely,

Mary

Legislative Update from Bill Ingebrigtsen

Friends and Neighbors,

What a week at your state Capitol! I had the opportunity this week to get another hearing on my “Blue Alert” bill I also took part in the conference committee regarding the Governors pay increase bill. Please read in the “Hot Button” section of the update for more information. Have a great weekend!

Lawmakers and faith leaders take stand for religious freedom

On Monday, a bipartisan group of legislators joined leaders of various religious faiths to denounce religious persecution around the globe. The group introduced Senate File 15, a resolution asking President Obama and Governor Dayton to take additional steps to raise awareness for the subject and make religious freedom a higher priority.

We are fortunate to live in a country where we have freedom of religion. It’s easy to forget how lucky we are. Around the world, people of faith are more and more often being subjected to discrimination, violence, and even death for no other reason than their religious beliefs. The most recent in a long list of examples is the murder of 21 Christians in Egypt.

The U.S. State Department reported that in 2013, the world witnessed the largest displacement of religious communities in recent memory. According to Pew Research, Christians face persecution in 151 countries – more than any other religious group. Christians are the only religious group at risk in each of the 16 worst countries for religious persecution.

Education plan focuses on “Your School, Your Needs”

This week Senate Republicans introduced an innovative education funding bill that would provide a burst of funding directly to our classrooms while relieving districts of costly, burdensome state mandates that have long tied the hands of school boards, principals, and teachers. Here are the details:

Equitable funding for every child

The “Your School, Your Needs” funding bill would allocate an extra $175 per student for 2016 and $180 per student in 2017 – an increase of 3%. It is a fair, equitable funding method that treats every student in Minnesota exactly the same. For comparison, the governor proposed a 1% increase to the current education “formula” that distributes money unevenly across the state.

No strings attached

In the past, the legislature has forced schools to spend new money on very specific programs that may not align with students’ needs. Our plan comes with no strings attached, giving schools flexibility to spend the money on innovative new ideas that boost student achievement. Locally elected school boards and parents will get to decide how their students will benefit from this funding. This plan also allows schools to opt-out of any future mandates that are forced upon schools for the next two years.

Classroom innovation

Another key feature of the proposal is the “lockbox” provision. It allows school districts to set aside money for specific projects so it cannot be touched during negotiations or budget discussions. I hope our local school boards will take advantage of the lockbox provision to innovate in the classroom.

Local priorities

“Your School, Your Needs” is about trust and priorities. For years, the only answer to problems facing our education system has been funding increases. But as we increase funding, we also cause harm to school districts with hundreds of mandates that tell them exactly what to do with the money. Our bill places faith in local school boards and parents to determine how best to spend education dollars.

The needs of students in Douglas and Otter Tail Counties are not necessarily the same as the needs of students in Minneapolis, so why do we let bureaucrats in St. Paul make education decisions for everyone in Minnesota? “Your School, Your Needs” empowers our schools to come up with bold, innovative ideas and deliver the best possible education to our children, and I’m proud to support this plan.

Hot Button Issues:

This week I was put on the conference committee to discuss the Governor’s proposed pay increases. This conference committee included both the House and Senate. In this conference committee we discussed the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill. The Senate version called for a delay in the Governors increase till July. The House version had that same language but on July 2nd 2015 it returned the power of giving raises to commissioners back to the legislature. While I believe the power should have never left the legislature I do not believe that we should allow Governor Dayton to give commissioners upwards of 20, 30 and even 40% raises. We should be putting that money into our aging roads and bridges.

Also I had the opportunity to present S.F. 397 the “Blue Alert” bill on Wednesday. This bill would create a new system similar to the Amber alert system. Except in this case, folks in nearby areas will be notified if a law enforcement officer has been either extremely hurt or killed and a suspect is on the loose. Suspects who are willing to do that to a law enforcement official are extremely dangerous and need to be apprehended as soon as possible. This law would lend 5 million more eyes to law enforcement and add no additional cost to the state. The bill passed through the State and Local Government Committee and will be heard next in the Finance Committee.

Thank you for taking the time to read my weekly update it remains an honor to represent you in St. Paul. As always, feel free to contact me at my office at any time with your legislative concerns at 651-297-8063 or at Sen.Bill.Ingebrigtsen@senate.mn.

Thanks,

Bill

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