First week of the 2020 session
The 2020 legislative session got underway this week. As we move forward, I believe we have significant opportunities for bipartisan success. The Senate will focus on passing bills with bipartisan support – and that includes bipartisan agreement on our $1.3 billion budget surplus.
I’m looking forward to a robust discussion and a solution on how to bring down the high costs of insulin and other prescription drugs, lower taxes, fund improvements to local infrastructure, and more. I also expect the legislature to consider measures related to public education, affordable housing, public works projects, colleges and universities, and more.
As Chairman of the Senate Capital Investment Committee, one of the biggest tasks for this legislative session will be assembling a capital investment bill, also known as a “bonding” bill. Projects are eligible for bonding – the process by which the state finances certain construction projects of local, regional, and statewide significance through the selling of bonds – if they are publicly owned and designated as infrastructure.
This session, more than $5.3 billion in capital requests have been made by state agencies, colleges, cities, counties, townships, and other government entities across Minnesota. In November and December, the committee spent more than two weeks on the road touring hundreds of capital requests in all areas of the state. Whether it’s wastewater treatment facilities, bridges, highways, or airports, the need across our state is vast.
The committee will formally consider the requests and put together a capital investment bill in the coming weeks. This is a difficult process as the dollar amount of the bonding bill will not nearly amount to the value of the submitted requests.
In our area the funding of the Rochester Airport runway project and the Oronoco wastewater treatment system are important requests.
Clean Energy First
My bill to modernize Minnesota’s energy resources had its first hearing this week in the Senate Energy and Utilities Committee, where it received favorable action and was laid over for further consideration next week.
The legislation, known as ‘Clean Energy First’, aims to prioritize clean energy as the state plans its future energy needs by requiring Minnesota utility companies to prioritize carbon-free technology in their future plans and will direct the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to consider whether utilities’ new energy projects are in the public interest. The legislation includes nuclear, solar, wind, hydropower, carbon sequestration, and municipal solid waste as clean energy. The bill requires clean energy to be affordable and reliable as part of the approval process.
In the next two decades, most fossil fueled power plants will likely be retired and replaced – representing more than 40 percent of our current capacity. As we plan for our state’s future energy needs, we have the opportunity to do so in a way that prioritizes efficiency and carbon-free energy. ‘Clean Energy First’ addresses our long-term energy needs by allowing technology and the economy to drive innovation in the energy sector. Mandates only drive up cost; we need to keep that in perspective as it relates to the cost of energy in Minnesota for all energy consumers.
The proposal will help Minnesota accomplish the transition to clean energy through careful resource planning and coordination. I believe an all-of-the-above approach to clean energy ensures a reliable grid; it’s a reasonable approach that’s more flexible and less costly. I’ll continue to keep you in the loop.
Minnesota State Senate
3401 Minnesota Senate Building
95 University Ave W
St. Paul, MN 55155