Roger Reinert is a Duluth resident.
- Member for
- 3 years 9 months
We begin the 2016 legislative session with a budget surplus of $900 million. That's less than predicted in November, but maintains a position of strength going into the session. We also begin with $1.56 billion in the budget reserves, which protects the state from future economic downturns. Minnesota has enjoyed a budget surplus over the past few years due to fiscal restraint in our budget-making and a progressive tax policy.
The status of Minnesota driver's licenses has been in the news for months now. Some news reports have scared Minnesotans with claims that you'll soon be unable to board airplanes. The 2016 legislative session is now less than a month away and with all of the information swirling about this topic, I'll talk about the history of the issue and the potential options.
The Duluth elections last fall brought us a new mayor and a City Council where eight of the nine members have served for two or less years. Certainly that will bring some challenges as everyone gets on top of their respective learning curves. But it also presents a great opportunity to not be tied to the past, or the way we have always done, or not done, things.
On Dec. 3, state economists confirmed what many suspected: Minnesota remains a national leader in economic recovery. In the first week of December, state economists announced a forecasted budget surplus...
My friends and I can often be found running, sometimes for miles, along the Superior Hiking Trail. We are blessed to have 10,000 wooded acres in the city of Duluth. We have, and are continuing, to add miles of hiking and mountain biking trails within city limits. This ease of access to the great outdoors is one of the things that makes the Northland great. But it takes something away when you arrive at a trailhead to find it littered with garbage or encounter individuals illegally using ATVs on the trails.
The Great Lakes form the largest group of freshwater lakes on the planet, containing 21 percent of the world's surface fresh water by volume. As a Duluthian and the senator who has the largest port on the Great Lakes in my district, it was my honor to attend the Great Lakes Legislative Caucus in Buffalo, N.Y., representing Lake Superior and Minnesota. The caucus is comprised of legislators and members of parliament from all states and provinces bordering the Great Lakes. Caring for these vast bodies of water is something every attendee at this gathering had in common.
The USS Duluth has a rich history. First launched in 1965, she sailed her first mission to Vietnam and spent the better part of the next decade sailing around the South Pacific. In the following years, the ship also went on a peacekeeping mission to Lebanon, spent time in Panama, helped with oil-spill cleanup in Alaska and took part in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. The USS Duluth was decommissioned in 2005 and subsequently salvaged. As a proud Duluthian, senator and member of the U.S. Navy, I feel strongly that the ship is an important part of our city's history.
It's been two years since the Senate and House Capital Investment Committees visited the Duluth area to tour bonding projects and hear requests. In even-numbered legislative years, the Legislature spends a considerable amount of time sifting through hundreds of requests to fund infrastructure projects across Minnesota. In 2014, the Legislature invested $1.1 billion. Duluth fared well. Projects at Spirit Mountain, University of Minnesota Duluth, Wade Stadium and the NorShor Theatre totaled $19 million. This session, there is a new slate of project requests.
The 2015 legislative session will likely be remembered as one of compromise. After two years of Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party control in the House, Senate and governor's office, Republicans gained control of the Minnesota House. This year was bound to prove more difficult — and it did. While compromise meant many disappointments, especially in the environmental arena, Duluth did walk away with several big wins. Beginning with seeds We began this session with seeds on the brain.
Only two weeks remain in the 2015 legislative session and I'm struggling to see an in-time adjournment. The House, Senate and governor's proposals are all vastly different. While much work always seems to happen in the last couple weeks, so far I haven't seen the conversations that will lead us to completion. Every major finance bill has dramatic differences that are difficult to reconcile. Let's start with the tax bill. The House bill cuts $84 million out of the local government aid (LGA) program. LGA helps communities pay for utilities, police, fire and other essential services.