Sen. Rest Receives Legislator of Distinction Award

The Sun-Post published the following article written by Joe Bowen on August 1, 2015:

Freiberg, Rest honored by League of Minnesota Cities

2015 Legislator of Distinction award is third in a row for Freiberg, 11th for Rest

The League of Minnesota Cities selected Rep. Mike Freiberg (DFL-Golden Valley), Sen. Ann Rest (DFL-New Hope), and 26 other state lawmakers as “Legislators of Distinction” for 2015.

The distinction marks the third time in as many years that Freiberg has earned the award, and is Rest’s 11th. She also won the inaugural award in 1996.

State Representative Mike Freiberg earned his 2015 “Legislator of Distinction” recognition from the League of Minnesota Cities because he authored a bill that appropriated money to train elected officials in data practices compliance. He has been recognized in previous years for working to extend sales tax exemptions for joint powers government organizations, such as Crystal and New Hope’s shared fire department, the West Metro Fire-Rescue District. (Submitted photo)

A statement released by the league says Freiberg was chosen this year for his authorship of a bill that appropriated money to provide elected officials with enhanced training in data practices compliance.

“There’s a lot of misunderstandings about it,” Freiberg said of the state’s Data Practices Act, adding that he likes to think other issues also influenced the league’s decision, such as legislation extending existing sales tax exemptions to joint powers governmental organizations like the West Metro Fire-Rescue District, which is a shared fire department between by New Hope and Crystal. A previous legislature approved a law exempting government organizations from sales taxes on everyday purchases, but did not include shared organizations like West Metro, prompting Frieberg and other lawmakers to push legislation including them in the exemption. That measure passed in 2014 and is set to be implemented in 2016.

“I’m exited,” Freiberg, a former Golden Valley council member, said of the recognition. “I think it helps that I was on

a city council for nine years. I think I understand the issues facing cities pretty well from that experience. It’s very flattering to see that reflect in an award like that.”

The league said Rest was recognized specifically for serving as the chief author of a bill that would have implemented changes to the tax increment financing statutes requested by the league’s development finance task force.

“That was a task force where the league worked with the state auditor’s office to streamline some of the reporting provisions for tax increment,” Rest said. “Unfortunately, although they were not a controversial part of the tax bill, we didn’t do a tax bill.”

Additionally, the league said Rest was a key partner in efforts to craft and pass legislation creating a workforce housing grant program, workforce housing tax increment finance option, and workforce housing tax credit. Rest herself added that she and other West Metro lawmakers worked with a multitude of city-level officials to pass legislation that attempted to thwart Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Canadian Pacific railroads’ planned freight rail connection in Crystal.

State Senator Ann Rest was recognized as a 2015 “Legislator of Distinction” by the League of Minnesota Cities for her efforts on behalf of a bill that would have changed tax increment financing statues. The league also mentioned her efforst creating and passing legislation creating a workforce housing grant program. (Submitted photo)
State Senator Ann Rest was recognized as a 2015 “Legislator of Distinction” by the League of Minnesota Cities for her efforts on behalf of a bill that would have changed tax increment financing statues. The league also mentioned her efforst creating and passing legislation creating a workforce housing grant program. (Submitted photo)

“I was so impressed with how the cities worked together on that and included New Hope and Golden Valley and Plymouth and the City of Minneapolis,” Rest said. “I was really pleased that that legislation passed.”

To be eligible for the Legislator of Distinction honor, legislators must achieve one or more of the following criteria: be generally and reasonably accessible to League representatives, seek input on issues of importance to cities, listen to League concerns and be receptive to League-provided information on issues, sponsor and/or support League initiatives, speak out on behalf of the interest of cities, and work to demonstrate the importance of partnership between the state and cities. Recipients of the recognition received a letter of appreciation and a certificate. Additionally, a copy of the Legislator of Distinction acknowledgement letter was sent to the mayor of each city in the district of each award winner.

Other 2015 recipients of the award include Rep. Cheryl Youakim (DFL-Hopkins), Rep. Nick Zerwas (R-Elk River), and Sen. Scott Dibble (DFL-Minneapolis).

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