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Archive for the ‘Le Sueur County’

Town Meetings

February 18, 2010 By: Kevin Dahle Category: Event, Kevin Dahle MN Senate District 25, 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]

Snowy Middle Ground

November 15, 2009 By: Kevin Dahle Category: Environment, Le Sueur County, Scott County, Sibley County, Transportation No Comments →

snowThe US Fish and Wildlife Service has been purchasing land in the Minnesota River Valley with the intent to provide additional acreage to the National Wildlife Refuge already in place there. That is an admirable and worthwhile goal. Unfortunately, they have decided to ban snowmobile use on newly acquired lands, specifically on trails that have been in existence there since the 1970s. These trails have successfully co-existed with those uses outlined in the Fish and Wildlife Service’s guidelines since the trail’s inception. Snowmobiling groups and I have been working with our representatives in Congress as well as those at the Fish and Wildlife Services in hopes of finding a solution to the problem before the first snowfall. Even a waiver for conditional use of the established Grant-in-Aid snowmobile trail this winter season seems to be a reasonable compromise.
There is much at stake. The city of Henderson depends on the patronage of snowmobile traffic to help them through the winter months. Other cities will also be impacted by dwindling patronage if this vital link in the trail system is unavailable. In addition, local fire and rescue utilize the established trails to access the river bottom lands. Reduction in this accessibility affects their plans in the event of emergency situations. Snowmobiling is a favorite winter pastime for thousands of Minnesotans. Snowmobiling also helps provide a large number of recreation opportunities for other trail users since the majority of snowmobile trails in Minnesota are open for multiple uses and help provide important winter access, services, and trailheads. Rerouting of the existing trail, in this case a steep ditch, poses many safety issues including the crossing of county roads, many without shoulders.
Snowmobiling provides opportunities for families and friends to enjoy wintertime companionship while experiencing splendid scenery like no other season offers. These opportunities combine to help teach respect and conservation of the environment, while instilling a strong appreciation for private and public lands.

“This country will not be a permanently good place for any of us to live unless we make it a reasonably good place for all of us to live.” – Theodore Roosevelt, 1912

Economic Assistance

August 02, 2009 By: Kevin Dahle Category: Economy, Le Sueur County No Comments →

A couple of cities in District 25 received some good news earlier this summer. The city of Montgomery has been awarded $608,300 from the Small Cities Development Program (SCDP). This award is to rehabilitate 15 owner-occupied houses, eight commercial building, and six rental units to benefit the cities of Montgomery and Lonsdale.
The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) administers the Community Development Block Grant Program for greater Minnesota through the SCDP, which encourages community development activities. These activities are consistent with comprehensive local and area-wide development planning that furthers the goal of providing a decent and suitable living environment for all households in Minnesota with an emphasis on benefits for low and moderate income families.
The Minnesota Dislocated Worker program approved a $270,000 grant to serve 75 workers laid off from LeSueur Inc. in LeSueur. The Dislocated Worker program, which is both state and federally funded, is administered through the South Central Workforce Council. The return to work program assists eligible workers in finding new jobs as quickly as possible, at the highest skill and wage level possible. Services can range from job search workshops to intensive career counseling to financial assistance with long term training depending on the labor market and the goals of the individual customer.
These types of programs are critical to the communities of greater Minnesota. The financial resources of the programs, coupled with both private and public resources, provide rural communities with a comprehensive approach in addressing their needs. It is good to see these programs finding their way to our local communities.

Voter ID

July 24, 2009 By: Kevin Dahle Category: Le Sueur County No Comments →

boothAfter speaking at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon in LeCenter a few days ago, I had a discussion with a woman about voting and voter identification. Our conversation followed an earlier comment by a gentleman who felt the recent MN U.S. Senate race and subsequent recount made us a “national laughingstock.” I respectfully disagreed with the lady and the gentleman.
The United States, throughout its 233 years, has a history of restricting voters. Originally, land owning white males were the only people showing up at the polls on Election Day. Gradually, these restrictions were lifted. No less than 6 constitutional amendments have extended voting rights to women, minorities, 18 year olds, and residents of the District of Columbia. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 put teeth into earlier amendments ensuring eligible citizens could exercise their rights and cast their vote on Election Day.
The woman was emphatic about the need for a photo ID to vote: “Well, you have to show an ID to cash a check or buy a beer; we should require the same for voters.” I disagree. We don’t have a constitutional right to buy beer or cash a check. We do have the right to vote. And not every person has a photo ID. There is no documented wave or trend of individuals voting multiple times, voting as someone else, or voting despite knowing that they are ineligible. Indeed, evidence from the highly scrutinized 2004 gubernatorial election in Washington State actually reveals just the opposite: though voter fraud does happen, it happens approximately 0.0009% of the time. The similarly closely-analyzed 2004 election in Ohio revealed a voter fraud rate of 0.00004%. National Weather Service data shows that Americans are struck and killed by lightning about as often (Brennan Center for Justice).
The recent Franken - Coleman recount demonstrated a deliberate and thorough process that highlighted a few areas of concern. The concerns were minimal, but if addressed, could avoid any problems in future recounts. Legislation passed by the legislature this past session would have strengthened Minnesota’s election system by using state and federal databases to help prevent those who are ineligible from registering or voting before elections take place. Every effort was made during the session to pass a bipartisan election reform bill with non-controversial, common sense reforms to make our good election process better. Those reforms would have strengthened voter registration systems and made it easier to accurately and efficiently count absentee ballots. Governor Pawlenty vetoed the bill.
“I don’t care who you vote for, just as long as you vote.” I actually would say that to people on the phone during my last election campaign. The right to vote is at the core of any democracy. Perhaps I put too much trust in my community, our local election judges, or the person who vouches for their neighbor at the polling site. Even though Minnesota consistently leads the nation in voter turnout we should continue to do whatever we can to encourage even more voter participation, not set up more roadblocks.

The Family Farm

July 11, 2009 By: Kevin Dahle Category: Economy, Le Sueur County No Comments →

cowYesterday, I had the opportunity to meet with over nearly 50 people on a family farm south of Montgomery. These family farmers expressed real concerns about staying in business and their ability to make a living as dairy farmers. They are typical of the more than 60,000 dairy farms in the United States that have been cutting costs, selling off their cows, or leaving the dairy business altogether as milk prices plummet while dairy farm operating costs remain uncomfortably high.
Representative Laura Brod, myself, and a representative from Congressman John Kline’s office listened to the concerns of area farmers as they asked what could be done at both federal and state levels. The problem certainly stretches beyond the state borders. Nationwide, milk prices are down more than 50 percent from last summer after hitting all-time highs in 2007 and notching the second highest prices on record in 2008.
Analysts expect milk prices to remain depressed through at least the first half of the year, and prices later this year may only be high enough to cover production costs. Several farmers on hand described the problem in simple terms - too much milk and not enough demand for it. While suggestions ranged from: cutting production to federal or state intervention in milk pricing, all agreed that the issue needs to be addressed and the sooner the better. The family farm is just as important to our economy as the businesses on Main Street or the factory in town. They are all vital to each other’s success.
I intend to dig into this issue and will be listening to our rural community as they offer input and suggestions to addressing a real crisis. Our family farms in Minnesota and across the United States deserve our attention.

I Love a Parade!

June 26, 2009 By: Kevin Dahle Category: Event, Kevin Dahle MN Senate District 25, Le Sueur County No Comments →

Most every community in my Senate district will hold community celebrations and parades this summer. It is a great opportunity to meet constituents and sample the hospitality and fare each town has to offer. The people are always warm and inviting and, of course, always having a good time. Earlier this month I walked with the LeSueur County DFL in the Bullhead Days Parade in Waterville and more recently, the Cherry Creek Days Parade in Cleveland, Minnesota. We had great weather both weekends and my kids and I had a great time. I especially enjoyed dining on some tasty bullhead in Waterville. I couldn’t talk my kids into sampling the same, however. They settled for the foot long corn dog. Food always tastes better at a community celebration. Northfield hosted its annual “Taste of Northfield” event this past week. They had a great turnout. Needless to say, I was unable to taste everything offered in Bridge Square on a beautiful Thursday evening. This Sunday I will be walking in the Henderson Sauerkraut Days Parade beginning at noon. Following the parade, I will be spending some time at Bender Park and offering a few words of congratulations to the Parade Grand Marshall, Jeff Bertrang. Jeff, born and raised in Henderson, has been promoted to General in the Minnesota National Guard. Congratulations, Jeff. I look forward to visiting with you.
Of course, there are plenty of other community celebrations to come. Kolacky Days in Montgomery, BBQ Days in Belle Plaine, Defeat of Jesse James Days in Northfield…and a community celebration in Dundas this weekend, just to name a few. Join in the fun. Watch a parade, eat some food, and meet some friends.

Of Interest

April 30, 2009 By: Kevin Dahle Category: Economy, Le Sueur County, Rice County, Scott County, Sibley County No Comments →

A recent editorial criticized the House and Senate DFLers for raising taxes. What the editorial failed to mention is the fact that both the House and Senate cut spending more than the Governor. The editorial goes on to criticize a House plan that “eliminates deductions on…most astonishing – mortgage interest.” It’s unfortunate that the editorial board failed to do some homework on this House provision. A closer look reveals the truth about the mortgage interest deduction proposal.

First of all, the bill does NOT impact the federal mortgage interest deduction, which represents most of the tax benefit for homeowners. It only impacts the much smaller state portion, and in a positive way for most. The House tax bill converts the mortgage interest deduction into a credit so that all taxpayers qualify for an equal percentage tax benefit.

Consider the following scenarios:

A married couple, $40,000 of income, $75,000 home, and working hard to pay about $6000 in mortgage interest. They don’t have enough other deductions; therefore, they don’t itemize. Their current state tax benefit is $0. Under the House proposal they will get a credit of $140.

A married couple, two kids, $100,000 of income, $200,000 home – relatively modest for their income, paying about $13,000 a year in mortgage interest. Their current state tax benefit equals about $400. Under this proposal, they’ll get a credit of $420 or $20 more.

Married couple, two kids, $100,000 of income, paying about $25,000 in mortgage interest. Their current law gives them a state tax benefit of $1,180. Their home is worth twice as much as the first example but their state tax benefit is three times as big! Under this proposal, they’ll get the same $420 credit as the married couple in the $200,000 home. Under current law, the bigger the home, the higher the income, the bigger the benefit – the House proposal reforms this impact.

Married couple two kids, $500,000 of income, million-dollar home, paying mortgage interest of $60,000. Under current law they receive tax benefits of $1,750. Under the House proposal, they would receive $420.

The bill creates a credit that provides the same benefit for everyone, up to $10,000 of interest. The Senate tax bill does not include this proposal. They do have a provision that would eliminate the mortgage interest deduction on a second home. Fifteen states do not have a mortgage interest deduction at all. The House proposal is similar to what is currently in place in Wisconsin.

I am not sure what the final tax bill’s provisions regarding mortgage interest will look like when it arrives on the Governor’s desk. Given the enormous budget deficit facing the state, subsidizing $1 million mortgages is no longer affordable. I would hope the correct information regarding the House and Senate budget plans are reported accurately so proper discussion can ensue.

Careful Consideration

March 14, 2009 By: Kevin Dahle Category: Economy, Le Sueur County, Rice County, Scott County, Sibley County 1 Comment →

state On Thursday, the Minnesota Senate set targets to resolve the budget deficit. Last week we received the final budget forecast which gives us the most accurate picture of the kind of revenue Minnesota can expect over the next several years. It may not come as a surprise to know that the news is not pretty. We are in one of the worst economic downturns in recent memory.
I would like to respond to my constituents who have criticized the legislature for not presenting its own budget in a timely manner. Every Senator and every Representative has been working on this issue from the start. There is a complex array of factors involved when making budget decisions that affect so many Minnesotans. Difficult and gut wrenching cuts will be made that affect our elderly, the disabled, our children, and the poor. Budgets impacting cities and towns, police and fire protection, libraries and homeless shelters are being considered. Farmers, veterans, small and large business owners, nurses, and college students will be affected. Each cut comes with tentacles that reach deep into other programs. We, as legislators, are not only listening to what the public has to say, but also striving to understand the consequences of each cut. Given the choice between a hastily assembled budget for expediency sake and one that represents deep consideration to those affected, I believe my constituents would prefer the latter.
Some have criticized our desire to take time and listen to Minnesotans as a meaningless excursion. I attended one of these sessions in Burnsville where nearly 300 citizens attended (6500 persons attended similar sessions statewide) to weigh in on the budget process, sharing their hopes and fears, concerns, and advice. The old, the young, the strong and the frail, and some of our most vulnerable citizens welcomed the opportunity to say a few words to members of the legislature. We listened. In a representative democracy, if we cease to listen, we cease to represent. That experience, more than anything, gave meaning to the tough decisions that stand before us.
The Senate DFL plan balances the budget and addresses the long-term budget problems. It does not raid the Health Care Access Fund that providers pay into to help those who have difficulty paying their medical bills. Seven percent across-the-board cuts ensure that no one group unfairly shoulders the entire burden. Our difficult choices will save owners from increased property taxes, which have skyrocketed to almost 70% from 2002-2008, mainly because of cuts in Local Government Aid.
I have never criticized the Governor’s budget. There may be much I do not agree with, but I realize that we will need to recognize the same factors that went behind his decisions as we hope he does ours. These difficult economic times call for compromise and cooperation and the opportunity for all citizens to have a say in the process every step of the way. In two months the legislature will adjourn. We welcome input from Minnesotans on proposed solutions. As we have done so successfully in the past…let’s figure this out together.


March 11, 2009 By: Kevin Dahle Category: Education, Energy, Health Care, Kevin Dahle MN Senate District 25, Le Sueur County, Scott County, Sibley County, Transportation No Comments →

It has been a busy time at the Capitol, but Tuesday March 10 was especially hectic. Tuesdays are typically full. I have committee meetings scheduled throughout the day, but on this day five of my own bills were moved in several committees. The day went like this:

• 7:30am – Rural Caucus: discussed the State budget and the Green Acres bill, scheduled to go to the floor of the Senate on Thursday.
• 8:30am – Education Committee: bill on Mandate reductions
• 9:28am – I have a bill up in the Tax Committee to increase the LGA (Local Government Aid) for Green Isle, a town in my district…the bill passes committee.
• 9:45am – Back to the Education Committee in time to defeat a provision in the Mandate bill that would have cut teacher prep time 80% in future contract years.
• 11:03am – Step out of committee to meet with some friends from Faribault representing the Friendship House which serves adults with mental disabilities.
• 11:20am – Freshman DFL Caucus with Senate leadership – discussed the budget
• 12:05am – Grab a bag of chips and a Diet Coke for lunch. Discuss bills and afternoon schedule with Legislative Assistant.
• 12:30am – Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee meets. We discussed bills related to Homeowner Insurance and Health Care Insurance coverage.
• 1:12pm – Run to the Transportation Committee. I have a bill that keeps Hwy 19 in New Prague closed one weekend in Sept. for the Dozinky Festival. Bill passes.
• 1:35pm – Back to the Commerce Committee where I present a technical bill on behalf of the Commerce Department which updates statutes relating to measurements and the definition of biofuels. Bill passes out of committee.
• 2:15pm – Meet with constituents representing the Pork Producers in my office
• 2:30pm – Called my wife to see how my daughter’s allergy appointment went.
• 3:00pm – Energy, Utilities, Technology, and Communications Committee – Presented two bills on behalf of the Public Utilities Commission, dealing with technical changes and consumer refunds for unlawful charges by Utility companies. Both passed out of committee. Heard a bill dealing with refunds for unauthorized cell phone use from a lost cell phone.
• 5:00pm – Just enough time to run across the street to the Kelly Inn to meet with the Snowmobilers Association. Chatted with constituents from Faribault and New Prague.
• 6:45pm – Commerce Committee reconvenes to discuss the Homeowners- Lender Mediation Act. After a thorough discussion, the bill passes out of committee.
• 8:45pm – Drove home in icy, windy, and snowy conditions.

While Tuesday was busy, there will be longer and even busier days ahead.

Weighing In

February 16, 2009 By: Kevin Dahle Category: Economy, Education, Energy, Environment, Event, Health Care, Kevin Dahle MN Senate District 25, Le Sueur County, Rice County, Scott County, Sibley County, Transportation No Comments →

The Mayor of Elysian was overhead leaving one of the many town meetings held in District 25 over the weekend, “That was kind of fun.” I couldn’t agree more. It is not every Saturday that local citizens get a chance to gather to discuss the issues of the day. We discussed a variety of issues and I was impressed with the level of discussion, the interest and knowledge of the participants and the respectful tone of the meetings….even when participants took opposing views. So what did the citizens of District 25 bring to the table?
Two weeks ago, I visited Waterville, Elysian, LeCenter and Cleveland. Last Saturday, I held town meetings in Belle Plaine, LeSueur, Montgomery, and New Prague. Foremost on everyone’s mind was the budget deficit and the economy. Several expressed concerns about proposed cuts and the long term effects of such cuts. Specifically, cuts to Local Government Aid, Education, and Health and Human Services seemed to garner the most attention. Most agreed that cuts will be necessary and as we move forward, prioritizing and determining the level of cuts will need to be decided. But other residents said that Minnesota may need to look at new sources of revenue to maintain basic government services and ensure a quality of life we have come to expect in Minnesota.
npragueSeveral constituents in the New Prague and Belle Plaine area have concerns about the CapX2020 project. CapX2020 is a joint initiative of 11 transmission-owning utilities in Minnesota and the surrounding region to expand the electric transmission grid. The transmission lines will be built in phases and several residents have concerns about the line’s route and the impact this project will have on their lives. Representative David Bly and I have introduced legislation to address some of their concerns.
Casinos, Unemployment, Nuclear power, parks and trails, pensions, and the Minnesota Health Plan were part of the agenda in several of the towns. The Green Acres legislation in 2008 also garnered much discussion. I am a co-author on a bill in the legislature that would repeal many of those changes to make sure farmland is valued for tax purposes on its agricultural value, rather than its future development potential or highest and best use value.
Many citizens shared their real life experiences at these meetings. They have expertise in farming, health care, local government, energy, education, and the environment. Dropping two fishing lines in the lake may not seem like a big deal to many, but a proposed law on that very matter prompted one resident fisherman to voice his opposition. I was happy to listen. And if this comes up for a vote on the floor of the Senate, I will consider myself a more informed legislator. Thank you, constituents, for sharing your thoughts and concerns these past few weekends. That was kind of fun.