State Legislators Convene for Inaugural Mississippi River Legislative Caucus Meeting
ST. PAUL, Minn. – Senator John Hoffman, DFL- Champlin, joined legislators from seven states at the first meeting of the newly created Mississippi River Legislative Caucus (MRLC) in St. Louis on September 12 and 13. Senator Hoffman was invited to be part of this caucus due to the cities of Brooklyn Park, Coon Rapids, and Champlin all having the Mississippi River in common.
The goal of the MRLC is to better coordinate state legislators in the ten states bordering the Mississippi River around river health and sustainable infrastructure development.
The meeting corresponded with the annual meeting of the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative (MRCTI), a group that coordinates mayors whose jurisdiction includes the river. A Congressional Mississippi River Caucus also exists, but this new project is the first to specifically coordinate state legislators along the river.
Attendees came from Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee. These legislators were able to work alongside mayors from their state on a shared vision for the river corridor.
“Having conversations that cross state and political lines has been incredibly productive. We are all dedicated to developing the river valley in innovative, sustainable ways that protect our drinking water and drive our economy forward. These conversations have been incredibly valuable, and I look forward to continuing this work with my fellow colleagues and Mississippi River Legislative Caucus members,” said Sen. Hoffman.
The meeting addressed a range of issues and opportunities facing the region, such as: expanding container shipping and port developments along the river; strategies for reducing nutrient loading and improving water quality in collaboration with the agricultural community; smart community development along riverfronts; flood prevention; and ensuring safe drinking water by partnering with local business leaders.
State legislators also met in conjunction with river mayors for discussions on how to better leverage federal programs and funding mechanisms to improve the resilience of their local communities.
“We are extremely excited to help better coordinate state and local leaders as they work together for a healthier Mississippi River,” said Jeff Mauk, executive director of the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators, the organization that convenes the MRLC. “Having grown up near the river, I know how important it is to these communities and how crucial it is to bring legislators from different states and parties together with a focus on solutions.”
The MRLC will continue to provide opportunities for legislators from the ten river states to share ideas and collaborate through digital engagement and in-person gatherings throughout the year.