Monthly Archive for April, 2017

Rep Tony Jurgens Capitol Update: Work Continues (4/28/2017)

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Representative Tony Jurgens

Representative Tony Jurgens

By Rep. Tony Jurgens, 4/28/2017

Hello from the State Capitol,

The work of our legislative conference committees continues at the State Capitol. As you may have heard in various news reports, Governor Dayton changed his parameters and is choosing not to engage this week in the conference committee process. So, the House and Senate continue working and remain ahead of schedule, but we are disappointed the Governor isn’t engaged in the process by allowing his commissioners and staff to negotiate with less than a month remaining until the end of session.

With conference committees in full swing, it has given me the opportunity to dig into some specific bills. For example, I was able to sit in on the taxes conference committee this week. In the House, we approved provisions that reduce taxes on Social Security, provide tax credits for student loan payments, provide tax relief for farmers facing school bond referendums, and eliminate an extra tax leveled on Main Street business owners. As a first-year representative, I’m looking forward to this negotiation process and seeing the final product.

This week I was also able to hit a number of local events. First I visited with a number of business owners and residents at the Cottage Grove Area Chamber of Commerce Business Expo. I also attended the Cottage Grove Volunteer Banquet at River Oaks Golf Course. As a past recipient of the Cottage Grove Volunteer of the Year award, I was pleased to be on hand to congratulate this year’s winner – Bud Schmidt – and thank him for his dedication to the City!

Representative Keith Franke of St. Paul Park and I also honored local companies Persolvent and Simek’s Thursday on the House floor by presenting them with a resolution honoring their charitable work and involvement in our communities.

I was also able to visit with a Hastings family who stopped by the Capitol this week to learn more about government, and was happy to show them around.

In addition, I met with several residents who came in to visit about topics of interest to them. This is always enlightening and I appreciate whenever people take the time to meet with me.

Have a good weekend,
Tony

State Representative Tony Jurgens
523 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155
651-296-3135
rep.tony.jurgens@house.mn

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Rep Keith Franke Capitol Update: Long-term care (4/21/2017)

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Representative Keith Franke

Representative Keith Franke

By Rep. Keith Franke, 4/21/2017

Dear Neighbors,

Long-Term Care
Recently, I introduced a bill to improve long-term care throughout the state. The legislation, HF2576, requires the commissioner of health to work with interested stakeholders in order to identify areas of improvement relating to long-term care and safety. The bill also appropriates funds to “investigate complaints and reports regarding maltreatment of vulnerable adults in health care settings.”

Creating improved care for aging and vulnerable adults is a top priority. I was thrilled to see similar language included in the Health and Human Services Omnibus Bill. I look forward to working with members of both parties to help Minnesotans who need the most assistance.

Volunteer of the Year
On Wednesday, St. Paul Park honored their Volunteer of the Year, Lois Stolte. Lois has been a devoted volunteer at Friends in Need since 2003. She’s such a value to our community; congrats on this honor, Lois!

Volunteers are special breed of kind and giving souls who do good simply because it’s what our community needs. Thank you to all those who give of their time and energy to those less fortunate!

Local Charity
Tomorrow, Stone Soup Thrift Shop is hosting their Annual “Soup-er Bowl” event. This is a great chance to get out and support a charity in our area that does great work. If you’re interested, please click here for more information.

Please Contact Me
As always, please continue to reach out by phone or email if you ever need anything. I love hearing from you.

Enjoy your weekend,
Keith

State Representative Keith Franke
567 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155
651-296-4342
rep.keith.franke@house.mn

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Rep Tony Jurgens Capitol Update: Funding solution (4/20/2017)

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Representative Tony Jurgens

Representative Tony Jurgens

By Rep. Tony Jurgens, 4/20/2017

Hello from the State Capitol,

If Governor Dayton is true to his word, Minnesota should soon see a long overdue, long-term transportation funding solution signed into law. Specifically, a $6 billion investment into statewide needs without raising taxes.

On April 18, the governor said he is likely to accept a Republican-sponsored transportation funding proposal, and drop his own plans that increases gasoline taxes and fees, because Minnesota needs a transportation bill.
This is truly great news.

For years Governor Dayton had advocated for a long-range transportation funding plan that would have raised gasoline taxes by a minimum of 16-cents per-gallon and raised fees in a number of other transportation-related areas. Now he appears to have abandoned this idea and recognized we can approve a proposal this year without forcing drivers to pay more at the pump.

As a reminder, the House transportation funding legislation includes $6 billion over the next ten years without raising taxes. The proposal creates a new fund of existing tax revenue streams called the Transportation Priorities Fund, which uses current, transportation-related state tax revenues to make the new road and bridge investment. It also utilizes trunk highway bonds and a portion of the $1.6 billion budget surplus for additional revenue.

With the governor’s support, it’s my hope that we can wrap up conference committee discussions on our transportation funding bill quickly and send him a bill that he is willing to sign.

Speaking of conference committees, they have now been assigned for every spending area within state government. Some background: during the budget setting process, the House and Senate each pass legislation that funds a specific area – health and human services for example. If the bills approved in each legislative body aren’t identical, they are sent to a conference committee to reconcile the differences.

The conference committee is made up of five representatives and five senators, and the group eventually crafts a compromise plan that can be approved by both the House and Senate and can be sent to Governor Dayton. He then decides whether to sign it into law or veto it.

Considering we approved our finance bills well ahead of time, we’re hopeful the governor and his commissioners will engage in the negotiation process early rather than at the last minute. Doing so means we will have a successful end to session before our May 22 deadline. Stay tuned for future updates as our budget bills move forward.

This week, I was pleased to surprise Dan & Barb Massman at KDWA by presenting a House Resolution to them, congratulating them on being named the Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year. Thank you for all you do in the Hastings community!

Have a good weekend,
Tony

State Representative Tony Jurgens
523 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155
651-296-3135
rep.tony.jurgens@house.mn

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Rep Tony Jurgens Capitol Update: Illegal freeway protests (4/13/2017)

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Representative Tony Jurgens

Representative Tony Jurgens

By Rep. Tony Jurgens, 4/13/2017

Hello from the State Capitol,

You may have heard about a public safety funding proposal the Minnesota House approved recently that also addresses illegal Interstate protests and increases penalties for sexual predators and traffickers. I thought I’d give you a brief update on these provisions.

What many people don’t realize is that it’s already illegal for protesters to shut down a freeway such as Interstate 94, yet the current punishment is doing nothing to deter them from putting their own lives – not to mention the lives of other motorists and law enforcement – in danger.

The current intentional public highway obstruction law is a misdemeanor. The legislation included in the public safety bill would strengthen the penalty to a gross misdemeanor, which increases the probability for a jail stay, higher fine, and longer probation. Nothing in this bill changes what is already illegal.

The bill also strengthens criminal sexual conduct laws by eliminating stays of imposition and adjudication for sex crimes, increasing supervision post incarceration for some crimes from ten years to life, and increasing the length of punishment for those convicted of child pornography crimes.

Funding for police training is also a major component of the bill. New money is allocated to local law enforcement agencies to help them pay for officers’ training costs, and to help officers in dealing with suicidal and mentally disturbed people. The plan also improves our judicial system, and allows the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to replace an outdated predatory offender registry.

There’s no doubt this public safety bill will better protect Minnesotans and assist those who keep us safe each and every day, and I was happy to support it.

I also wanted to remind residents that for the first time, all military pensions are fully exempt from Minnesota state income taxes beginning with 2016 tax filings that are due this year. This new tax benefit is a result of bipartisan legislation passed in 2016 by the legislature and signed into law by Governor Dayton.

Minnesota veterans with questions about the new tax exemption are encouraged to visit here for more information.

The Legislature has been on break this week for the Passover and Easter holidays and we will return to work on Tuesday. To those celebrating this week, my best wishes for a Happy Easter and a Happy Passover!

Tony

State Representative Tony Jurgens
523 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155
651-296-3135
rep.tony.jurgens@house.mn

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Rep Tony Jurgens Capitol Update: Highway 316 compromise (4/7/2017)

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Representative Tony Jurgens

Representative Tony Jurgens

By Rep. Tony Jurgens, 4/7/2017

Hello from St. Paul,

I have good news to report for Hastings residents who were concerned about MnDOT raising the speed limits along Highway 316. After having numerous meetings and discussions with the department over the past few weeks, MnDOT has agreed to leave the speed limit at 35 miles an hour on Highway 316 from Highway 61 to just north of Tuttle Drive.

The story has been making news not only in Hastings as seen in the Star Gazette and on KDWA, but also statewide. Just this week a feature on Highway 316 aired on KSTP TV (click here), and the St. Paul Pioneer Press has also featured it (click here).

Last week, my bill referenced in these stories was approved by the Minnesota House. It was contained as part of a larger transportation proposal that was sent to the Minnesota Senate, and the legislation itself was also scheduled to be debated as a stand-alone bill before the full Minnesota House. Now, I’m happy to report this legislation won’t be necessary.

As you may know, a Highway 316 resurfacing project in that area is scheduled for the year 2021. I had several conversations with MnDOT where they agreed to leave the limit at 35 until then, but I would not agree to it because it didn’t address the safety concerns of neighboring residents. In my opinion, that move would have just kicked the can down the road for four or five years.

On Thursday following one final conversation with MnDOT, we found a compromise that both the department – and I believe the City of Hastings as well as impacted residents – can live with.

MnDOT has now alerted the City of Hastings that it has agreed to not change the posted speed limits in the affected area, meaning it will stay at 35 miles an hour. In the letter submitted to Mayor Hicks, it stated it will continue to work with City staff to develop a public involvement plan that seeks input from community members and businesses on the design of the 2021 Highway 316 resurfacing project.

It also noted – and again, this was the key point in the entire Highway 316 debate and the reason for drafting legislation in the first place – that during the preliminary design of the future Highway 316 project, MnDOT and City staff will evaluate safety options for the area. These include, but are not limited to turn lanes, intersection control, lighting, and crosswalks. When this provision was added, I agreed to the terms.

Once the project is completed and the safety improvements have been made in the area, MnDOT will then conduct a new speed study to determine if speed limits should be increased.

The City of Hastings has put in a great deal of time working with MnDOT on the speed limit changes, and I’d like to thank the mayor, council members, and city staff for their work on this issue, and for their continued support of my legislation that addressed Highway 316. I’d also like to thank the Hastings residents who live along the highway who brought this problem to my attention several months ago while I was out door knocking, and the citizens who came to St. Paul and testified.

This is a great example of people having concerns, getting involved in the process, and helping secure a successful conclusion. For me, the safety of Hastings residents has always been the top priority in this speed limit debate. I believe this is the most common sense solution that could have been reached and I am extremely pleased MnDOT was willing to listen to and work with us and help put this compromise is in place.

Have a good weekend,
Tony

State Representative Tony Jurgens
523 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155
651-296-3135
rep.tony.jurgens@house.mn

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