Monthly Archives

June 2010

Rice County Meeting

By | Economy, Rice County | No Comments

This past Tuesday, Representatives David Bly, Patti Fritz, and I visited with Rice County Commissioners and several other Rice county officials.  It was a good meeting with an opportunity to hear the concerns of our county leaders who have some real concerns with the state budget and its effects on county services.

The point was made clearly by County Administrator Gary Weiers that County governments are finding it increasingly difficult to carry out the federal and state government’s business with continued cuts to County program aid.  Without reducing the mandates, business as usual cannot continue. In 2010 State funding to Rice County was reduced by over $1.3 million. Revenue reductions without mandated reductions are a cost shift from state to local governments.    This has a big effect on social services, our district courts, and the dozens of agencies and departments that allow local government work to for Rice County residents.

Paul Beaumaster, Rice County attorney, expressed concerns that reductions to the courts are impacting counties by attempting to shift costs for legal representation in certain cases.  Lines have become blurred as to who should pay the real costs of our court system, the state or the county?  Mark Shaw, director of Social services, expressed his concerns that severe budget cuts now will have long term implications later.  Those people served by county services, even more during the recession, will have greater needs at greater taxpayer expense, unless they receive help now.  With the state facing a $6-7 billion shortfall next biennium, we need to be talking about solutions now.  The Representatives and I will be meeting with County officials throughout the district in the months to come.

On the Go

By | Event, Le Sueur County, Sibley County | No Comments

It has been a busy stretch here the last few days. Yesterday morning I was on the road by 5:30am headed to Arlington for the Town and Country Farm Breakfast. Brad and Jackie Odenthal hosted a great event, serving eggs, sausage, fruit and pancakes. It was a pleasure to visit with the folks of the Arlington area. I didn’t have time to hear the polka band which was just beginning to warm up as I was on the road again by 7:30am headed for Marshall, Minnesota.
The American Legion Boys State is held in Marshall for the 4th straight year and I had the pleasure to speak to the 360 young men in attendance. Representative Ron Shimanski and I spoke about Minnesota Political parties and state government. I gave them my Civics lesson on the importance and responsibility of citizenship and fielded some great questions on several issues from these young leaders. It was exciting to once again be a part of Boys State having served as a Boys State Counselor for 10 years. It is a great program and I was honored to speak to the group. Director Mike Bredeck, the staff, and counselors do a great job with this program each and every year. Boys State recently celebrated 60 years in Minnesota.
Today I door knocked in Waterville. I enjoyed visiting with constituents on numerous issues including education, funding for nursing homes, and even the Minnesota Nurses Association strike. Tonight I will be headed to Cleveland for the Cherry Creek Days celebration parade beginning at 5:30pm.

US Highway 169 Corridor Coalition

By | Event, Le Sueur County, Scott County, Sibley County, Transportation | No Comments

This past Thursday I attended a meeting of the Highway 169 Corridor Coalition held in Belle Plaine. The mission of the group, which started a couple of years ago, is to bring attention to the needs of the corridor from Mankato in Blue Earth County to Bloomington and Edina in Hennepin County. In the spring of 2009, the U.S. Highway 169 Corridor Coalition was officially established to advocate for the corridor.
US-169 is a robust, multi-modal transportation corridor that is important to the state and the communities along the corridor. Challenges to its ongoing success include relieving congestion, especially near I-494, identifying US-169 as an important regional transit corridor, enhancements to important connections between rail, road, and transit within the corridor, safety, economic development along the route, and connecting the metro area to important SE Minnesota markets and businesses.
The coalition includes members from nearly all of the communities along the corridor and meetings include mayors, city council members, county engineers, county commissioners and administrators, Region 9 Development Commission representatives, and others with a vested interest in the corridor. On this particular evening, Senator Claire Robling, Representative Mike Beard, and I took questions about how we can cooperate in finding ways to move Hwy 169 projects and priorities forward. As legislators, we can assist with efforts to secure funding through federal dollars, the state general fund and bonding, county and city funding, and cooperative efforts between private and public entities at all levels.
There is great interest in the communities along the corridor to see projects completed. These projects include interchanges, bypasses, and reconfiguring of access and frontage roads. Cities like LeSueur see new upgrades such as the LeSueur Hill interchange as a way to promote economic development, increase employment, promote safety, connect the community, stabilize access to other highways, and support increased mobility along the corridor. Currently, as part of its efforts to ensure the continuing viability of US-169, the U.S. Highway 169 Corridor Coalition is building on extensive studies and plans that have already been completed by the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
To learn more about the coalition:

Area Business Forums

By | Economy, Kevin Dahle MN Senate District 20, Rice County, Scott County | No Comments

This past week I spoke at a meeting of the Northfield Downtown Development Corporation along with Representative David Bly. A few days later I spoke at at a gathering of the New Prague Chamber of Commerce along with Representative Laura Brod. With a couple of dozen persons on hand, the topics focused on the recently completed legislative session and the outlook for the next session. Of course there were some concerns expressed about Local Government Aid cuts, rising property taxes, the next state budget, the overall economy, and the health of our downtown businesses.

The legislature did enact several enact several measures designed to improve our business climate. In addition to a $680 million capital investment bill, the House and Senate passed the Angel Investor Tax credit, equal to 25% of taxpayer’s investments in small Minnesota businesses involved in high-tech, bio science, and green manufacturing industries. The Historic structure rehabilitation tax credit (20% of the rehabilitation costs) designed to assist in upgrading historic buildings, was passed along with a Research and Development tax credit. This credit is designed to spur innovations within Minnesota companies by increasing the current 5% tax credit to a 10% tax credit. it also expands eligibility for the tax credit to partnerships and LLC’s, rather than just corporations.

The legislature also directed the Dept. of Employment and Economic development (DEED) to identify at risk businesses in the state and develop tools the state can use to retain and attract new businesses. It also creates a fast action economic response team that would work with at risk businesses to ensure they are utilizing state services and identify their needs to ensure they are being met. The response team would also assist out of state businesses looking to relocate in Minnesota. The Senate also passed a bill that was into law that prescribes DEED to raise private funds for the Office of Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development and maintain a virtual network of resources that are available for new Minnesota business ventures and entrepreneurs.

Finally, the legislature passed a bill this session to fund a comparative study to look at the effects of state regulations on costs and delays in starting a small business in MN, Wisconsin, Iowa, and the Dakotas as well as the typical costs that go along with businesses in retail, manufacturing, and services industries. The study will be conducted by a state higher education institution, and will serve as a guide for future lawmakers as they outline the state’s economic development strategy.