Although the 2011 legislative session already started, a few committee details still are being finalized. At least one committee – the Environment and Natural Resources committee – had a vacant post and this week, I was very pleased to learn I will be filling that spot.
It will be my first time serving on the outdoors committee since I was I the House of Representatives, but not my first time dealing with issues likely to come before the committee. Members are charged with reviewing issues pertaining to land use, environmental standards, the Department of Natural Resources, and sports and recreation rules, to name a few. I have been very active with these issues in the past, largely because they apply to so many residents living in our region of the state.
I have heard from constituents, for instance, that some of the state’s permitting processes are confusing, time-consuming and not effective or applicable for our part of Minnesota. As a member of the chief committee in charge of reviewing such issues, I look forward to having a more dominant role in streamlining the state’s permitting processes and making regulations more responsive to regional issues around the state.
I also serve on the Agriculture and Rural Economies Committee this year, which will allow me to address other matters that directly impact our part of Minnesota. In addition, I will be serving on the Higher Education Committee and the Taxes Committee.
Last year, I was appointed to an independent Property Tax Working Group as well, which continues to meet this session. The members of this group include not only legislators, but county and city officials from across the state as well as officials from the Department of Revenue. Together, we are working on developing recommendations for the legislature on streamlining and reforming the state’s property tax system. It is a complicated process; one that, frankly, may take much longer than the year timeline we were given. However, it’s a good conversation to have as we continue to look for ways to reduce the property tax burden on Minnesota families that continues to grow each year.
In the upcoming week, budget reduction bills and tax conformity legislation will continue to move through the legislature. The pace continues to pick up at the Capitol, so please feel free to contact me with questions about issues making progress.