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Minn. Republicans want feds to deny $900M in Southwest rail funds

The following article by Brian Bakst was posted on the MPR website March 22, 2017:

Minnesota Republicans want President Trump’s transportation secretary to deny Minnesota almost $900 million in requested funding for the Minneapolis-to-Eden Prairie Southwest Corridor light rail project.

It would upend a project that has been working through stages of approval for almost a decade.

Opponents of what would be the biggest-ever public works project in Minnesota have done everything they could to stop it. They fought Southwest light rail before city government, blocked clearance at the state Capitol and went to court.

But this might be the biggest threat yet. (more…)

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On Osmek’s response to Southwest Light Rail

To The Editor:

State Senator David Osmek’s recent attacks on the Southwest Light Rail Transit project and a reported “crude” email about it, sent from his government email server in February to a St. Louis Park resident, has perked my curiosity.

I live in Eden Prairie but have friends and family who are represented by Sen. Osmek. I have been questioning and participating in the planning process of Southwest Light Rail for nearly 16 years and find some of Sen. Osmek’s comments misleading and offensive. (more…)

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Osmek’s comments on Southwest Light Rail

To the Editor:

Sen. Dave Osmek, Mound, was crass and cavalier in his response to a constituent’s concern about light rail, as reported in the StarTribune. Osmek called it “a liberal wet dream.” I thereafter emailed him, criticizing his response and questioning his ability to represent his constituents. (I said he is unfit.)

He immediately, to his credit, responded, but accusing me of being from St. Louis Park (outside his district), and therefore had no right to give him my opinion. This was even though I had given him my full home Tonka Bay address, clearly in his district.

His complete email: “Just to correct you, the email was from St Louis Park. Last time I checked, that isn’t in SD33.”

He made no argument in favor of his position, no response other than a Trump-like knee jerk attack on my legitimacy to give my representative my opinion, rather than a discussion of the issues. As I then wrote back to him, “Some representative. Still unfit.”

Gary A. Thompson
Tonka BaySun Papers, March 16, 2017

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Light Rail debate raging again at Capitol

The following article by Brian Bakst was posted on the MPR News website March 7, 2017:

The debate over the Southwest Light Rail Transit line is roaring again at the Capitol.

A pair of bills from Sen. David Osmek, R-Mound, debated Tuesday in separate committees, would restrict the use of public money for construction or operation of any new rail transit lines without explicit legislative approval.

“If we had had this law in place before we started all of the spending, we wouldn’t have problems today,” said Osmek. (more…)

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Feds: Southwest light-rail funds cannot be diverted to roads, bridges

The following article by Janet Moore was posted on the Star Tribune website March 1, 2017:

Republican legislators introduced a measure at the State Capitol last week asking the U.S. Department of Transportation to funnel $929 million intended for the Southwest light-rail line to a “block grant that can be used for other transportation projects” in Minnesota. (more…)

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Senate DFL Week In Review: February 24, 2017

The Sunday liquor sales debate dominated the headlines this week. The House passed the bill with a wide margin on Monday, followed by the Senate Commerce Committee passing the bill to the Senate floor.

Senators held a Twitter Town Hall following the committee hearing on Wednesday to add more voices to the conversation. The vast majority of the discussion was positive, with constituents from across the state asking when the bill would be voted on, and when it could potentially go into effect.

It was a busy week full of committee hearings as well. The Senate Judiciary Committee held a contentious hearing on several protest-related bills. All of the testifiers who attended the committee testified against the bill – which they say would threaten their first amendment rights.

This Week In the Senate

Gun violence prevention

On February 23, a group of legislators joined with several police chiefs, the Hennepin County Attorney, respected gun violence prevention advocates, and families affected by gun violence to unveil three bills to address the growing problem of gun violence.

The first bill, The Taylor Hayden Gun Violence Prevention Act, is designed to reduce the number of injuries and deaths of innocent victims of gun violence. Through a competitive bidding process, the legislation appropriates $400,000 to community organizations with expertise in gun violence prevention. The legislation is in honor of Sen. Jeff Hayden’s late sister, Taylor, who was killed last August by a bullet intended for someone else, and who would have turned 26 this week.

Bipartisan legislators unveil Opioid Reform Act

A bipartisan group of lawmakers joined with Attorney General Lori Swanson, doctors, law enforcement, and people affected by opioid addiction on this week to unveil the Opioid Reform Act, a series of bills designed to combat opioid abuse.

Dyslexia Day at the Capitol

The advocacy group Decoding Dyslexia: Minnesota held a rally this week for Dyslexia Day at the Capitol. Students and parents shared personal stories about their struggles with dyslexia, a language-based learning disability which results in a cluster of symptoms that make learning to read unusually challenging.

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