Local politicians speak to county commissioners

WORTHINGTON – Just one week before the Minnesota legislative session begins, Minnesota Senator Bill Weber and Representatives Joe Schomacker and Rod Hamilton visited with the Nobles County Commissioners to talk about what subjects and bills will be marched into view this year.

Front and center, according to Weber, will be bonding. On the senate side of things, Weber said they are hoping for $800 to $850 million in bonding. He’s also hoping some tax issues are revisited, namely farm repair and warehousing taxes.

Hamilton said the budget surplus will be discussed at length, as will minimum wage, Lewis and Clark, ag taxes and bonding. A bullying bill will likely gain some attention, Hamilton said, something he feels is better handled through school boards.

According to Schomacker, MNsure will be getting some behind the scenes attention. The program, which Schomacker referred to as a $155 million boondoggle, is coming against a tough deadline March 1 that seems unlikely to be reached.

There will probably be discussion regarding the uber-expensive Senate office building - a subject that Schomacker said would suck the air out of any room.

Weber said plenty of the senate doesn’t approve of the building, which he said smelled of back-room negotiations when bonding bills are figured into the equation.

Commissioner Marv Zylstra asked the politicos how they would work across the aisle to get bipartisan work done. Hamilton said he has proven he can work with others, Schomacker stated egos had to be put aside to work for the greater good. Sen. Weber said he made no pretense that he understood everything that happened during last year’s session, but suggested media coverage is biased toward subjects that are more controversial.

When everybody plays nice in the sandbox, he said, it isn’t as newsworthy.

In response to a query from Commissioner Bob Demuth, Weber said county representatives should not be bashful about alerting their local politicians to bills they see as problems.

“Don’t assume that just because we’re up there,” Weber said, “we know about everything that’s coming down the pike.”

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