Poppe introduces community design bill

Published 10:09 am Monday, March 20, 2017

With the first two legislative deadlines having passed, the third is approaching quickly on March 31. By that date, committees must approve action on major budget and finance bills.

During the course of the session many bills are introduced. This year we are at a record number of bill introductions by this stage of session — 2,448 bills have been introduced as of March 16, 2017. That is 782 more than the average for an entire year and is already the eighth highest number in the history of the Legislature.

Not all bills make it through the process, and an even smaller number gets signed into law. What has become much more common is for bills to be heard in committee and “held over for possible inclusion” in an omnibus bill. An omnibus bill is a package of similar topic bills put into a larger bill.

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One bill I am authoring (HF 2036) was heard in the Job Growth and Energy Affordability Policy and Finance Committee and held over for possible inclusion in the omnibus bill. The legislation would give money to the Minnesota Design Center of the University of Minnesota to help communities identify current and future opportunities for rural development, create designs, and seek funding. The Minnesota Design Center could assist up to 10 small communities within 19 counties in southern Minnesota.

This bill has Republican and Democratic co-authors. The importance of implementing sound economic, cultural, and environmental projects that respond to community needs can be an effective strategy for supporting greater Minnesota towns and cities.

Another bill (HF 2226) which received a hearing this week was a bill to support ag educators who get their degrees in Minnesota and teach ag in Minnesota schools. With agriculture being the key to one in four jobs, retaining teachers who specialize in agricultural education is vital to Minnesota’s future.

The legislation would provide financial assistance to agricultural educators who are repaying qualified education loans, including government, commercial, or foundation loans for expenses related to their graduate or undergraduate education.

If they meet the criteria to participate, teachers would submit an application to the Higher Education Commissioner; if accepted, teachers could receive up to $3,000 per year for a maximum of five years. The bill was “held over for possible inclusion” in the Higher Education and Career Readiness Policy and Finance Committee.

A bill of local significance is HF 11, which received a hearing in the Pension Commission on Tuesday evening. Senator Sparks and I, along with Director of Administrative Services Tom Dankert, presented this bill which allows the city to continue funding both full-time and part-time on-call firefighters in the same manner to which they have been accustomed. The Pension Commission is made up of members from both bodies (House and Senate) and both parties. Senator Julie Rosen is this year’s chair. We had a positive reception to the bill and that evening there was a vote to include it in the pension bill.

You can reach me by phone at 651-296-4193, by mail at 291 State Office Building, 100 Martin Luther King Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155, or via email rep.jeanne.poppe@house.mn.