Duluth Assessment: Last week I wrote about the damaging storm and subsequent flooding which had crippled transportation infrastructure in Duluth and the Northland area. As Chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, I felt it was my duty and obligation to gain a firsthand perspective of the scene. I conducted a tour of the region on Wednesday to view the devastation and damage that resulted from the torrential rainfall last week. Traveling with legislative leadership and the Commissioner of the Department of Transportation, I met with public officials from the City of Duluth, St. Louis County and neighboring communities. The clean up process is in full force and we will come together, as Minnesotans always do, to repair the damage inflicted upon the region.
Ridgewater College Renovation: Minnesota’s institutions of higher education are among the best in the country. In order for us to maintain that pristine reputation, we must ensure these schools receive adequate funding to remain competitive. The 2012 Bonding Bill contains appropriations to Minnesota State Colleges and Universities in an effort to sustain our high quality of education, and I am proud to report our district has been directly impacted.
Throughout the past two years, I have been a strong advocate for Ridgewater College to receive funding for the second phase of their renovation plans. After months of negotiations and committee hearings this past legislative session, this initiative was included in the final Bonding Bill. These funds will make significant improvements to two very popular areas of study at the school: agriculture and veterinary technician. It will also bring 21st century modernity to Ridgewater through updating facilities and incorporating a new layout. These upgrades will make the college an even more appealing option for Minnesota’s students.
Transportation: MnDOT Aeronautics held a meeting this week to discuss the State Aviation System Plan (SASP). This is a comprehensive 20-year plan for the development of aviation across the State of Minnesota. The main objective of the group is to determine how cost-effective air service can be provided at our state’s airports. In addition, one of the key benefits of having a reliable network of airports across the state is the ability to draw employers to Minnesota to help create more jobs and grow our economy. MnDOT has been working with airport officials throughout the state, as well as local elected officials and community leaders to update the SASP. With a vision of safe, fast and reliable air transportation for the citizens and businesses of Minnesota, I look forward to working with this group as they prepare a report that will be released in the next few months.
Capitol Report: I had the opportunity to sit down with Capitol Report’s host, Julie Bartkey, to talk about my work on the Transportation Finance Advisory Committee (TFAC). I have written to you in the past about the important work before us at TFAC and the opportunities we have to reform and update transportation across Minnesota. Interested viewers can watch the interview Sunday, July 8th. On the statewide Minnesota Channel, it will air at 6 a.m., 12 noon, and 6 p.m. It also airs at 12 noon on Pioneer Public Television’s main channel.
Happy Independence Day: Next Wednesday marks the 4th of July and America’s 236th birthday. Whether you are attending a parade, enjoying a barbecue, or watching fireworks light up the sky, I ask you to take a moment and reflect upon the greatness of this nation. Think about the freedoms we have available to us, individual liberty and all the wonderful qualities which make America the most exceptional nation on the face of this earth. I would like to wish you a very Happy Independence Day.
Thank You: As always, please feel free to contact me on any legislative issue.
State Senator, District 13
Transportation Policy & Finance Chair
303 Minnesota State Capitol
St. Paul, MN 55155
Office: (651) 296-3826