BLAINE, Minn. –(May 31, 2018) – Much of the frustration was due to the tax bill that passed both chambers of the republican controlled legislature but was vetoed by DFL Governor Dayton.
“We worked very hard to come more than half way,” said Rep. Nolan West (R-Blaine). “The cuts in the house and senate bills were minimal at best,” said Rep. Erin Koegel (DFL-Spring Lake Park).
“But conformity was the important part of that,” said West. Koegel echoed “we have to get tax conformity done; my hope is we can get back in January and get tax conformity done quickly”.
Thousands of bills are introduced each year at the state capital. Very rarely does a standalone bill make it all the way through the process. More often bills are lumped together into omnibus bills that can reach a thousand pages or more.
“There was a lot of really good stuff that we could have gotten done if it hadn’t been tied up in the thousand page omnibus bill. For insistence the opioid crisis intervention program,” said Koegel.
One big item that the legislature did get done and the Governor signed despite his concerns was a large bonding bill that will fund projects all across the state.
Both West and Koegel also had bills and policy changes they fought for this session.
“I love solar energy, I had a bill for solar energy that we got signed into law last year,” said West.
“Minnesota Care buy in option is something that I am a huge advocate for,” said Koegel.
The biggest focus for both local legislators was transportation. MnDOT allocated money to a Highway 65 study that area legislators had been lobbying for, the study will outline a path forward to fix the congested roadway.
“I’ve already started lobbying the chair of bonding for getting 65 in the bonding bill next year. An interchange at 109th would be the longest term fix,” said West.
With another fatal pedestrian accident recently on University Avenue Rep. Koegel worked with MnDOT to address safety concerns on that busy stretch of roadway.
“We pulled together some folks from MnDOT, Fridley, Blaine, Coon Rapids, Spring Lake Park and really just sat down and looked at some of the facts and figures at what was happening on that section of road. MnDOT was really alarmed at the amount of fatal and serious accidents and injuries. They are doing a road safety audit,” said Koegel.
The Highway 65 study will go into next year. The University Avenue safety audit will take 17 weeks. When complete, the reports will be made public with recommended improvements. The next step in each case will be to secure funding. Which will be up to the 91st Minnesota Legislature when they take office in January.
Both West and Koegel are up for reelection this November. Koegel will face off against Anthony Wilder who she defeated in 2016. West will be challenged by Amir Malik. North Metro TV’s local decision coverage will begin this summer with candidate biographies and debates for primary elections. General election debates will take place in the fall.