Sibley County

Investing in Minnesota

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

I received a call today from a man in LeSueur.  I had knocked on his door last weekend, and he told me he was fed up with the “crap” that the Republican Party was shoving in his mailbox and that I had his vote.  He was probably referring to the negative ads citing spending for gorilla cages, polar bears, or sculpture gardens, all part of a recent capital investment bill.  While I am not inclined to acknowledge what my opponents are up to, I will gladly provide some context to this piece of legislation.

The Senate’s version of the Capital Investment Bill is developed following hundreds of meetings that are held around the state.  By the time it is heard on the Senate floor, it is a wide-ranging piece of legislation, which includes investments in public infrastructure throughout Minnesota.  While it is easy to cherry-pick one or two items out of the hundreds included in these investment packages and criticize the vote, a look at the bigger picture reveals an investment in Minnesota while preserving past investments made by our citizens.

One could vote against the Como Zoo, the Ordway Theater and the sculpture garden in Minneapolis. But to do so, one would have to also vote against millions of dollars in investment for education, the environment, health care, our veterans, and the creation of more than 10,000 jobs.  In and near my own district, the bonding bill included money for parks and trails, the Minnesota Valley Regional rail line,  correctional facilities, and the deaf and blind academies.  I staunchly support job creation via projects like these, no matter where in Minnesota they are located.

Among the hundreds of other items included in the capital investment bills were funds for the U of M, our state colleges, flood prevention, financing for infrastructure in rural Minnesota, improvements for roads and bridges, early childhood facilities, RIM (Reinvest in Minnesota), and vital dollars for our veterans homes.  The Como Zoo project alone created more than 1,000 jobs.

When this bill was heard in the full Senate, I was part of a bipartisan landslide (57 ayes, 10 nays) that voted to pass it and send it to the Governor for his approval.  The debt service on the bonds for these projects was well within the limits set to maintain our AAA bond rating as a state.  With construction costs coming in under bid, interest rates at all time lows, this was the right time to invest in Minnesota and get people back to work.

I will continue to run a positive campaign and I will continue to welcome a phone call or two from my constituents who are ready to send me back to St. Paul.  I look forward to working with them and for them.

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:

Town Meetings

By | Event, Kevin Dahle MN Senate District 20, Le Sueur County, Scott County, Sibley County | No Comments

I will be holding several town meetings this coming Saturday, February 20. I am interested in hearing your concerns about the budget, policy, or any other issues you may have. If you cannot make one of the town meetings this Saturday, I will be holding several others at locations around District 25 over the next month or so. I hope to see you there.

LeSueur Town Hall Meeting
10am LeSueur City Library
118 Ferry Street, LeSueur

Belle Plaine Town Hall Meeting
Noon Belle Plaine Public Library
125 West Main Street, Belle Plaine

Arlington Town Hall Meeting
3:30pm Arlington City Hall Chambers
204 Shamrock Drive, Arlington

As always, feel free to contact me at the Capitol. I can be reached at 651 296-1279 or [email protected]

Compromising on Justice

By | Sibley County | No Comments

The young man stood before the judge with his orange prison jump suit, looking uncomfortable in handcuffs and shackles. The prosecutor read off a list of 20 or so prior offenses including burglary, theft, assault, and an earlier escape. When bail was set at $20,000 cash the young man cried and pleaded with the judge and anyone else who would listen, obviously distressed at the prospect of spending Christmas in jail. The public defenders in that case, overworked and underpaid, spent the day with other defendants, facing a variety of issues including child custody, child support, and drug use. Juveniles faced restitution, treatment, probation, and community service.
Yesterday I spent the day at the Sibley County Court House. Less noticeable was the scrambling by the hard working Court Administrator and her staff, down several workers, due to last year’s budget cuts. Minnesota and the courts face another budget cutting year. The November 2009 State Budget forecast, released December 2, projects a further deterioration of general fund budget conditions despite the budget reductions made to the enacted budget for FY 2010-11, the governor’s unallotments, and other actions following session. Since the February 2008 state budget forecast – the last forecast to precede the change in budget trend lines due to the recession that began in December 2007 - revenue projections for FY 2010-11 have fallen $5.0 billion from $35.0 billion to $30.0 billion; spending has declined from $36.1 billion to $31.3 billion. The projected shortfall for FY 2010-11 is now $1.2 billion.
I worry about our ability as a state to provide a judicial system that meets our needs as a society. While criminal matters will eventually get processed, the courts will be left with fewer resources for rehabilitation, juvenile supervision, probation, social workers, and public defenders able to properly give time and attention to those who need representation. Civil matters will be pushed aside. If you plan on getting a divorce, you should plan to live with your future ex for years to come. Personal injury, probate, housing, and domestic relations cases become less of a priority.
I was impressed with the reforms already in place in this rural county courthouse, but like other counties across Minnesota, our justice system is at a tipping point. Do we really want to handcuff our court system with further cuts? The courts are pleading. Is anyone listening?