10/16/2020 1:20:00 PM MN HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES - DISTRICT 39A
Bob Dettmer (R) QUESTION 1: The word is the state roads and bridges are lagging in repairs, maintenance and that money for any new construction improvements is hard to come by. (ie: Highway 8). Do you have any preference for a method to increase available funding, or do you feel there’s sufficient money and what’s needed is re-directing existing funds? Opinions on where these redirected monies could come from would be helpful.
The House Transportation Finance and Policy Bill will fund transportation for the next two years with an increase in funding and without raising taxes. Total spending of the bill will be $6.733 billion which is slightly more than $265 million more than the FY 2018/19 biennium or about 4% more in revenue without raising taxes.
In 2017 the legislature passed the auto parts sales tax funding dedicated to fund roads and bridges. Local road spending for counties and cities will see about a 7% increase in spending from the auto parts sales tax.
I’m currently involved with three local road and bridge projects: I serve on the Hwy 8 Project Task Force attending the planning meetings with MNDOT and County Engineers. I’ve co-authored funding legislation to start the pre-design of the project. This has been an ongoing Hwy safety project that will require state bonding.
I authored the legislation for the funding of the HWY 97 and Interstate Hwy 35 Bridge in Columbus/Anoka County. The project will be completed this fall. I’m the co-author for the Washington County – Interchange at TH 36 and CSAH 15 in Stillwater. With the completion of the Saint Croix River bridge the traffic on Hwy 36 has greatly increased causing traffic safety issues.
I have also authored legislation for fund Safe Routes to Schools which are MNDOT grants to municipalities to provide transportation safety routes improvements to and from schools.
QUESTION #2 How would you describe your level of support for efforts aimed at reducing production of greenhouse gas in Minnesota? In researching this topic, I consulted with The Center of the American Experiment, Minnesota’s Think Tank. In a brief summary this is what I gathered. Minnesota currently has a law mandating that 25 percent of the state’s electricity come from renewable energy sources, like wind and solar, by 2025. Some lawmakers have proposed doubling the renewable energy mandate (REM), requiring that 50 percent of our electricity be generated by renewable sources by the year 2030, and Governor Walz has proposed a 100 percent carbon-dioxide-free electric grid by 2050.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology shows using wind, solar and batteries to achieve and maintain a 100 percent of electricity generation system through 2050 will be nearly $80.2 billion.
I have to admit that I support a variety of energy source to include our renewables, natural gas, goal, hydroelectric, and nuclear.
According to Minnesota’s Think Tank, building new nuclear power plants would provide the same amount of carbon-dioxide-free electricity at a much lower cost than wind and solar. This is likely a key reason Xcel Energy announced its electricity would be 100 percent “carbon free,” and not 100 percent “renewable,” by 2050. If limiting carbon dioxide emission is truly imperative, nuclear power must be seriously considered.
American is an energy rich nation and as policymakers we need to utilize all the sources to provide the best solutions to our energy and environment goals in the most cost-effective way possible.
QUESTION #3 Any ideas to jump start the state economy in the wake of what will hopefully be a diminishing virus situation when you take office in 2021? Minnesota families and businesses have been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the shutdown of our state economy. I will work to bring jobs, paychecks and our economy roaring back.
Minnesotans deserve to feel safe in their communities. I will oppose radical efforts to defund or dismantle police departments, prioritize public safety, and support the brave men and women in law enforcement who do their jobs honorably and risk their lives protecting our communities.
We are now at a point where we need to determine how to best help our families and businesses recover. Over the past few months, the Legislature approved several laws that helped Minnesota deal with the pandemic. This included critical funding that assisted families, small businesses, and childcare providers.
Since the pandemic began, Minnesota's economy has taken a hit, going from a billion-dollar surplus to a projected multi-billion-dollar deficit in just a few months. There is no doubt this is happening due to the permanent closure of countless stores, reduced operating capacity at other businesses, and too many Minnesotans being out of work.
Moving forward, we need to help struggling families get back on their feet. We need to find ways to help strained business owners recover from what is likely the most significant challenge they have ever faced. We need to enact policies that drive job creation and put our unemployed back to work. If we can accomplish these goals, we can not only bring our economy roaring back, but help many Minnesotans along the way.
Ann Mozey (DFL) QUESTION #1 The word is the state roads and bridges are lagging in repairs, maintenance and that money for any new construction improvements is hard to come by. (ie: Highway 8). Do you have any preference for a method to increase available funding, or do you feel there’s sufficient money and what’s needed is re-directing existing funds? Opinions on where these redirected monies could come from would be helpful. Where were you in 2007 when the 35W bridge collapsed? Most people remember because it was such a traumatic event in our state resulting in injuries and deaths because of our neglected infrastructure. In response in 2008, our state legislature passed a comprehensive bonding bill to fund neglected projects throughout Minnesota. The incumbent I seek to unseat was newly elected and he voted against that the bonding bill in 2008, and is currently actively obstructing it now. When the roads and bridges collapse, we cannot get to work and the individual damage can be catastrophic. To make matters worse, a bonding bill is really a jobs bill. The borrowed money is used to pay workers to build our state's infrastructure, and the taxes on those wages pay back the debt. While interest rates are at an all time low, the time was prime for action. There is no net out lay, only benefit.
Gas prices are also at a record low. Cities across the state presented a unified letter requesting funds. But our GOP said no to a $0.20 gas tax and left that money on the table, money that funds our cities, including our police. Underfunding the police and blaming the Democrats for it is unconscionable not only because it is false, but because the blame-game puts our officers at far greater risk as they serve our communities.
QUESTION #2 How would you describe your level of support for efforts aimed at reducing production of greenhouse gas in Minnesota? We need to elect new leadership to address our climate issues. Deniers will not lead us in the 21st Century, they will destroy us. I am an executive board member on the DFL Environmental Caucus, and in that role I set up forums for environmental candidates to speak - there were no House candidates in all of CD6 except myself. That is very concerning to me and it should be to all of us.
QUESTION #3 Any ideas to jump start the state economy in the wake of what will hopefully be a diminishing virus situation when you take office in 2021? Underlying the PPP funding, stimulus checks, and state and county support is a concern to keep our small businesses up and running. Targeted funding for FMLA might make more sense to support people in the moment. When an employee is concerned about an exposure that they may have had, practically they do not currently have the option to test and stay home when they live month to month. If we funded FMLA leave for small businesses that could be a real game changer for our population.
Funding a robust bonding bill, as discussed above, is a no-brainer.
Internet infrastructure is imperative. In 1994, then-President Bill Clinton recognized the internet as a thing.
In 2008, the Minnesota State Legislature formed a task force and stated its intention to bring high-speed internet to all Minnesotans. Still today we have 150,000 homes and businesses without access. These are good paying jobs in the building, and support good paying jobs once up and running, yet the incumbent in 39A has obstructed the same until recently when the situation was already beyond dire.
State government has an opportunity to foster growth and jobs, we have not fully realized this opportunity under the incumbent.