Sen. Melisa Franzen Update: April 21, 2017

A weekly message from your Senator

Dear Constituents and Friends,

We are five weeks away from adjourning from the 2017 Legislative Session. Conference committee members have been appointed and we are now waiting for them to meet and find compromise in the differences between the House and the Senate on bills and the budget for the state. State commissioners are involved in the budget negotiations with the conference committees this week. I fully support Governor Dayton’s request that the House and Senate set joint conference committee targets no later than Friday, April 28. That gives conferees two weeks after the Legislature returned from the Easter/Passover break and leaves more than three weeks to negotiate the details of the omnibus budgets before the May 22 adjournment date. (more…)

Read More

Rep. Paul Rosenthal Update: April 21, 2017

Rep. Paul Rosenthal (49B) – Legislative Update

Dear Neighbors,

The Easter/Passover Recess has concluded and we returned to our legislative work this week. The House and Senate majorities have passed their omnibus budget bills out of both chambers and conference committees have started meeting to sort out the differences between each body’s bills.  Although both chambers are GOP-controlled, several of the final House and Senate omnibus bills have fairly significant policy and finance differences.  One example is the Health and Human Services Omnibus bill.  The House version, which passed on the Friday before break, contains a $600 million cut and would eliminate MNSure.  The Senate’s cut is half of the House’s and keeps MNSure.  These differences are parallel to the current leadership styles in the Minnesota Legislature; you can read about these here. (more…)

Read More

Rep. Paul Rosenthal Update: April 10, 2017

Rep. Paul Rosenthal (49B) – Legislative Update

Dear Neighbors,

Today is the first day of the Easter and Passover recess.  When we return, the House and Senate will continue to assemble the state budget and the GOP House and Senate leadership will be tasked with establishing joint budget targets to match up their finance bills.

Over the past two weeks, several omnibus budget bills have been heard on the House floor.  Here is an update on a few of those bills that have passed: (more…)

Read More

Is there $85 million for a new freeway interchange?

The following article by Mike Hanks was posted on the Sun-Current website April 7, 2017:

KYNDELL HARKNESS

It’s a story that is becoming well known, yet nobody knows the ending.

The interchange of interstates 35W and 494 is old and outdated. It’s arguably famous for its congestion. The need for a major overhaul of the intersection has long been discussed and unlikely to be disputed. But when and how improvements to the intersection happen remain a source of debate. (more…)

Read More

Sen. Melisa Franzen Update: April 7, 2017

A weekly message from your Senator

Dear Constituents and Friends,

After a marathon two weeks of session taking up all the omnibus bills to be considered this session, the legislature is adjourned for the Passover/Easter break.  We now move into negotiations with the Governor and both the House and Senate through conference committees. The highlights of the session so far are summarized below. Please continue to contact me with your questions or concerns on the budget and bills moving through the Senate as we wrap up the 2017 legislative session in May. (more…)

Read More

Sen. Melisa Franzen Update: March 31, 2017

Volume 3, Issue 13 — March 31, 2017

A weekly message from your Senator

Dear Constituents and Friends,

Senators and staff put in overtime this week as budget bills were hurried through the final finance committee deadline of Friday, March 31. More than six major budget bills were wrapped up and voted on. 

The judiciary and higher education budget bills were heard on the Senate floor on Tuesday this week. Both bills, particularly the higher education bill, fall short adequately funding core academic programs to maintain educational quality at campuses across the state. On Wednesday, the full Senate voted on three major budget bills: Jobs, State Government, and Environment. An amendment that passed with bipartisan support was included that works to protect Minnesotans’ online privacy rights. It was a timely amendment in reaction to Congress repealing online privacy rights and allowing Americans’ information to be sold to the highest bidder. Debate on the environment bill, which I could not vote for, puts Minnesota’s water quality in jeopardy by exempting hundreds of thousands of acres of land from the state’s buffer law.  (more…)

Read More

Rep. Paul Rosenthal: 35W and 494 Interchange improvement bill heard in House Transportation Finance Committee

On March 29, Rep. Paul Rosenthal (DFL-Edina) presented a bill that would significantly improve traffic congestion on Interstate Highway 35W and Interstate Highway 494 by adding a northbound and westbound ramp.  Designed almost 60 years ago, the 35W and 494 interchange carries between an estimated 250,000 and 300,000 vehicles daily and has had only minor modifications since.

“The 494 corridor at 35W has a statewide reputation as one of, if not the worst, metro traffic jams,” said Rep. Rosenthal. “I am disappointed this bill was not included in the House Republicans’ Transportation Omnibus bill; 21 percent of metro-area jobs are located on the 494 corridor.  The seven metro-area counties contribute to help fund over 60 percent of outstate Minnesota roads and bridges.  It’s important for us as a legislature to work together on a balanced, bipartisan bill that includes long-term sustainability and compromise to fund improvement projects statewide including the 494 and 35W interchange.”

Read More

Rep. Paul Rosenthal Update: March 28, 2017

Rep. Paul Rosenthal (49B) – Legislative Update

Dear Neighbors,

We are over half way through the 2017 legislative session and omnibus bills are coming together to ensure fiscal bills stay within the parameters of the recently released budget targets.

Transportation

As a member of the Transportation Finance Committee, I’ve had the opportunity to review the House Majority’s transportation funding omnibus bill.  The plan would shift $450 million from the General Fund into a new account for road and bridge infrastructure projects, proposes $1 billion in Trunk Highway borrowing over four years and would enact a $75 annual surcharge on electric vehicles.  House Transportation Committee Chair Torkelson is giving my bill to fix the 494 and 35W interchange an informational hearing.  I will continue to advocate for a balanced final proposal that includes long-term sustainability and compromise that funds projects like the 494 and 35W interchange.   (more…)

Read More

Sen. Melisa Franzen Update: March 24, 2017

A weekly message from your Senator

Dear Constituents and Friends,

Senate Republicans released their budget targets last Friday –  budget priorities lie with tax cuts for corporations, slim investments in education and transportation, and major cuts to other areas – particularly health and human services and the equity investments passed just last year. As the former Vice-Chair of the Health and Human Services Committee and a member of the Transportation Committee, I am concerned about the impact of these cuts to individuals, families, and businesses, particularly when there is a $1.65 billion surplus. 

Budget bills are still being crafted in many committees, but are expected to be passed to the Senate floor soon. Next week’s floor session is expected to be lengthier. (more…)

Read More

Rep. Paul Rosenthal Update: March 20, 2017

Rep. Paul Rosenthal (49B) – Legislative Update

Dear Neighbors,

The Senate and House Majorities released their budget targets last Friday and today, respectively.  These targets will serve as a financial blueprint and reflection of priorities to guide our work as we set the state’s budget.  I am still reviewing the details of both plans.  The two biggest variables we need to consider are: 1.) the federal administration’s budget proposal; 2.) the state’s projected surplus, after inflation.  State law currently does not permit forecasts to include rates of inflation.  I have authored a bill that would make this a requirement.  Uncertainties in the near future remain; it will be essential to be thoughtful and cautious in how we find a balanced approach for Minnesota.

Additionally, I’d like to take a moment to thank all veterans who came to St. Paul for Veteran’s Day at the Capitol today.  We thank all veterans for their service to our state and country.   (more…)

Read More