Dan Sparks: Recognizing accomplishments

By Dan Sparks

State Senator District 27

Each session is marked by successes and disappointments, both big and small. We will spend a lot of time in the coming months talking about the issues with our constituencies around the state and many of these conversations will be focused on the high profile, more news worthy items and what happened to them. It is important to recognize that the conflict associated with those issues do not impact all of the other work we do at the legislature. There are many meaningful accomplishments over the course of the session that are not celebrated but are important nonetheless.

I passed a number of bills this session that fall into that category, two that I feel are particularly noteworthy. These are items that have been worked on for years and had previously carried a fair amount of controversy. However, by collaborating with all the stakeholders we were able to strike compromises that all parties felt good about.

The first item, is one that I have personally been involved in for a long time. There has been a need to reform our telecommunications regulations to better reflect the technologies of today.  The Governor’s Task Force on Broadband and the Minnesota High Tech Association have called these reform a necessary step to modernizing our infrastructure.

This legislation not only delivers on the regulatory reforms industry needs, it also maintains strong consumer protections — gaining the support of Legal Aid and AARP. In addition to the reform, the bill included language addressing rural call completion, and a step toward more transparent billing, both of which are positive for consumers.

The other piece of legislation will have benefits for our construction industry, helping companies running on tight margins have less money tied up in contract provisions. Retainage reform has also been a reoccurring issue that repeatedly hit roadblocks to resolution. Retainage is the money held back on a project until the contract is satisfied. The industry came together around a number of modifications that they feel will help all parties in the industry, General and Subcontractors.

I am proud to have been a part of both of these bills. They are good policy updates that improve the business landscape while keeping the interests of all Minnesotans at the forefront. Much of the legislation that is passed every year follows these paths, of working together, finding common ground and compromise.

If you have questions or concerns about legislation and the session, I encourage you to contact my office at (651) 296-9248 or at sen.dan.sparks@senate.mn.

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