Monthly Archives: May 2014

Senator Ingebrigtsen, Rep. Nornes to Hold Town Hall Meetings

(ST. PAUL, MN) – State Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen (R-Alexandria) and Representative Bud Nornes (R-Fergus Falls) 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:

Perham Town Hall
Friday, May 23, 8:30-10 AM
Lakes Cafe 136 W Main St. Perham, MN 56573
(218) 346-5920

Pelican Rapids Town Hall
Friday, May 23, 10:45-12:15 PM
Muddy Moose 30 N Broadway, Pelican Rapids, MN 56572
(218)-863-2900

Fergus Falls Town Hall
Friday, May 23, 1:30-3:00 PM
LB Homes, 805 E Channing Ave Fergus Falls MN
(former Eisenhower Elementary School building)

Battle Lake Town Hall
Friday, May 23, 3:45 PM–5:00 PM
Good Samaritan, 105 Glenhaven Dr, Battle Lake, MN 56515
(218) 864-5231

Constituents wishing to find out more information or contact Senator Ingebrigtsen can do so by calling (651) 296-0101, 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.

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Rep. Paul Anderson (12B) – Legislative Update

Dear Neighbor,

We have been wading through a whole host of “other” bills this week as we await some bigger ones like bonding and supplemental tax and budget bills to come to the floor.

One of them we addressed pertains to employees continuing the union representation they previously had even when joint-power boards form. This is an issue which has impact in our area as local governments work together.

The bill I am referencing (SF 2490) was modified in the legislative process to address some issues, but concerns remain about whether this bill will discourage local governments from working together when, in fact, we should be encouraging them to come together when it means more efficient work. A mediator should be able to step in and reconcile differences between respective union contracts in such cases. Click here for a brief video where I spoke about this subject on the House floor Tuesday.

As for the “big” bills, it appears we could hear the bonding bill on the House floor as soon as Monday. Indications are the final plan will borrow and spend $846 million in bonds to fund construction projects all across Minnesota. On top of that, they are proposing around another $200 million in a stand-alone cash bill to pay for other work.

Disappointingly, it does not look like funding for the Lewis and Clark Regional Water System, which brings much-needed water to communities in Southwestern Minnesota, will be included. There is a shortage of quality drinking water in that part of the state and it is hard to imagine some of the more questionable projects will take priority over that issue. We’ll see what transpires.

We also expect to hear a supplemental tax bill on the floor soon. They reportedly ironed out House and Senate differences Wednesday night for what would be a second omnibus tax bill this session. I will get back with the details once we are able to give the bill a full rundown.

That other budget bill also is in the works (the additional $200 million on top of bonding) and we anticipate picking that up next week as well. That will be a busy stretch of days as we creep closer to the May 19 deadline to adjourn. We may get done a few days early, or could run right down to the wire. I’ll let you know what transpires.

Sincerely,

Paul

News from the Capitol

Friends,

It was quite the week last week at your State Capitol. We are in a full sprint to get this legislative session completed. This week also featured a couple groups some kids from Underwood and Fergus Falls. It is always good to have constituents and especially students, stop by for a visit.

Finance

This week the Finance Committee met a couple of times to go over a few bills. One of the bills that was being discussed was the DNR and PCA bill. These bills deal with regulations and rules that the departments are directed by the legislature to follow.

Another bill discussed in length was the Omnibus Game and Fish bill. That bill carries a few changes to current law, including increasing the minimum size before someone can take a muskie, and allowing people over the age of 60 the ability to hunt deer with a crossbow. This bill is still being worked on and will be on the floor of the senate soon.

Capital Investment

The Capital Investment Committee finally released their bonding bill. I have to say,I am thoroughly disappointed in the bill. The split between greater Minnesota and the metro is becoming more prevalent in our legislation and spending. The St. Paul Senators are even on record thanking the chairman for his generosity in our committee, for all the projects in the metro.

Governor Dayton and the DFL majorities have horrible priorities. We in greater Minnesota are asking for money to help fill our potholes and fix our bridges. They want more money to fund projects like the new Senate Office Building ($93 million), museums in Minneapolis ($8.5 Million), and the Nicollet Mall ($20 Million). We need leaders in the Capitol that realize that there’s more to Minnesota than Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Hot Button Issues

Another issue recently was the Online Voter Registration bill. This bill, which has been in the works for months, was rushed to the floor this week. The bill that the DFL wanted to pass didn’t include many provisions that were agreed upon earlier in the week. When the bill was presented, the DFL proclaimed that all and every amendment would be rejected. Republicans including myself moved and voted for more safeguards for data privacy that was lacking in the current bill. With the rash of data breaches we have been having, we thought this would be appropriate. The DFL majority however (to protect Secretary of State Mark Ritchie from his lawsuit) held to their promise and rejected all and every amendment we offered leaving your private data at risk for potential identity fraud. With this rejection, one must wonder why the DFL wouldn’t want a safe and secured voter registration system.

Medical marijuana was brought in front of the entire body on Tuesday the 7th. I strongly opposed this bill and was very vocal against it. I understand that there are elements of Marijuana that have medical benefits. But until the FDA approves a non-smoking form of raw marijuana, I cannot support it.

The current legislation is nothing more than a stepping stone to recreational marijuana. This can be seen on the floor as I offered an amendment to prohibit the use of marijuana within 1000 feet of playgrounds, schools, and local swimming pools. That however was considered too extreme and rejected by the DFL author. I also offered to allow medical marijuana to be administered in pill or liquid form only, and that was also rejected.

The bill was unfortunately passed. The bill had bi-partisan support and opposition. The bill that was passed without support of Law Enforcement, County Attorney’s, American Medical Association, Minnesota Medical Association, Governor Dayton’s commissioners of (Public Safety, Health and Health and Human Services). I fully expect Governor Dayton to keep with his word and veto this bill if it is passed onto his desk.

Friends, I need to plainly say I am afraid of what marijuana could and would do to our state, if we move towards recreational use. This drug which has been approved in Colorado for recreational use is destroying their communities. Recently a 4th grader was caught selling his parents marijuana on the playground. I have attached the link below. I know most Minnesotans wouldn’t want this.

Copy and paste this link to read -> http://fxn.ws/1ievXPd

Thanks for taking the time to read my update. Feel free to contact my office at any time. I am available at 1-651-297-8063 or at Sen.Bill.Ingebrigtsen@senate.mn

Bill Ingebrigtsen
State Senator
District 8
Office Phone Number
651-297-8063

Westrom Weekly Update

Dear Family and Friends,

This week the legislature focused on passing a number of “unsession” bills geared toward fixing last years’ initiatives passed by the Majority. In addition to legislation, the Governor offered his State of the State address on Wednesday in the House Chamber. The minority offered its own state of the state evaluation in a press release the same day.

Governor’s State of the State – The State of the State Address was a little disappointing. It’s unfortunate that our governor and the DFL leadership in the legislature do not recognize how important job creation is in our state. Under this governor, we are ranked 47 out of the 50 states in tax and job-friendly policies for small businesses as well as job creation. We can’t continue down the road to bigger and bigger government and more taxes as our governor wants to and think we’re going to have strong job creation; we need to change that. Unfortunately, his message consists of simply making government bigger. We in the Republican Party want to see entrepreneurs, families, and individuals left with opportunities to grow and expand their businesses as well as create jobs without government being looked to as the job creator.

GOP State of the State – Prior to Governor Mark Dayton’s State of the State address, the Senate Republican Caucus released its own evaluation of the condition of the state. The Republicans primary message was that the state of the state is strong despite all the uncertainty in the economy caused by Gov. Dayton’s roller coaster tax policy. Last year they raised taxes by $2.1 billion, this year the legislature is adjusting a few of them back because of the efforts pushed by myself and conservative colleagues to repeal some of those taxes. The question Republicans raised is whether the path the Governor has chosen will keep Minnesota strong for the next decade and provide opportunities for our citizens to prosper. Republicans have introduced many bills providing solutions to healthcare concerns, education and other areas impacting Minnesotans, but little attention has been given and few in the current legislative leadership have listened to Republican solutions.

Online Voter Registration – In 2013 Secretary of State Mark Ritchie unilaterally implemented electronic voter registration. Bipartisan opinions have stated his actions exceeded his authority. This week a bill was passed on the floor, 41-24, in favor of authorizing his electronic registration system and validating all Minnesotans registered under the prior system. The bill allows for electronic voter registration at any time except during the 20 days immediately preceding the election. Applicants must have an email address and a driver’s license or state ID number or last four digits of their social security number. The language prohibits anyone from submitting an electronic voter registration on behalf of any other individual. IP addresses will be logged and any evidence of suspicious activity must be forwarded to law enforcement. Republican proposals to detail website security and require a report to the legislature were rejected. Supporters say it is time to embrace the convenience of online registration. Tools can be properly developed to replicate the current in-person/mail registration process. While the idea itself seems worthy the details are important. The Secretary of the State (SOS) bypassed the thorough legislative process required to create a good system. Opponents say the SOS’s current system should be shut down until proven secure. With all the recent web site data privacy breaches and problems with government web sites, like MNSure, adding safeguard requirements would have been prudent, but it was rejected by the Majority.

“Unsession” Bills – MnDOT’s “Unsession” Bill came to the floor on Thursday making numerous technical changes, updates, and deletions of obsolete provisions. As a result of reduced reporting requirements, this bill is expected to save $4,000 in FY 2015 and $39,000 in FY 2016.

Healthcare and E-Cigarettes – An E-Cigarettes bill will come up in Finance Committee next week. It would modify certain provisions relating to the use or sale of tobacco products to include reference to e-cigarettes (electronic cigarettes) containing nicotine. It will also modify the definition of smoking, tobacco products prohibitions in public schools, municipal license of tobacco, tobacco related devices and similar products, ban on self service sale of packs and exceptions, effect on local ordinance, and sale of tobacco and tobacco delivery products to children. A number of my constituents have encouraged me to oppose the new regulations as it will limit the available options for Minnesotans trying to quit smoking. As one constituent said, “E-Cigarettes have killed zero Minnesotan’s.” Others have shared stories with me about how they are helping them kick their smoking habit. What do you think? This bill will soon be coming up for consideration.

Pension Bailout Bill – The pension bill that passed is a bailout for Duluth and St. Paul pension funds at the cost of all the taxpayers across Minnesota. This was the wrong direction to take; the taxpayers that are working hard should not be having to bailout two pension funds as this bill intends to do. We could’ve put the $21 million into other areas of the government, such as improve some reimbursements for those who care for the elderly in our nursing homes, our rural schools, or just keep it on the bottom line, as I advocated for on the Senate Floor this week. This bill will commit the hardworking state taxpayers to $21 million every year to continually bail out these two funds that are being merged into the statewide TRA fund because of officials’ mismanagement and poor performance. That is why I, as well as others, voted against this bill – we think it is an improper use of the hard-working taxpayers’ dollars.

This is just an overview of some of the exciting pieces of legislation working their way through the Legislature. Nevertheless, Minnesotans remain my top priority and it continues to be a pleasure to serve District 12.

Warm Regards,

Senator Torrey Westrom

Minnesota Senate – District 12
107 State Office Building
St. Paul, MN 55155
(651) 296-3826
(855) 407-7386