The House passed its Agriculture Finance Omnibus bill on Monday. This bill, which passed on a strong bipartisan 110-18 vote, will fund agriculture and rural development programs over the next two years.
There were numerous amendments added on the House floor that deal specifically with the avian flu outbreak that is affecting turkey producers across the state. These amendments include increased funds to reimburse state agencies and local governments for their costs in responding to the outbreak; providing an additional 12 weeks of unemployment benefits to poultry workers laid off as a result of the outbreak; and making poultry producers eligible for assistance from the disaster recovery loan program to replace their flocks, make building improvements and compensate them for lost revenue.
Also included in the bill are measures that protect our food supply, aid rural Minnesotans and farmers, and promote economic opportunities in the agricultural community.
Additionally, an amendment was offered and adopted during floor debate that would authorize the production of industrial hemp and establish a state regulatory structure for its production.
As a supporter of industrial hemp and a co-author of legislation that would allow its production, I am excited about the possibilities presented with this amendment. Not only would it open new opportunities for farmers and those in the agriculture industry, it would move our state toward allowing for local sourcing of many products made from hemp fibers. These fibers can be used in textiles, rope, food, clothing, paper, insulation, and building materials.
Make sure to tune into Almanac on Pioneer Public Television tonight (Friday) at 7 for an interview I gave regarding industrial hemp.
Ultimately, our Ag Omnibus bill is about protecting Minnesota’s food supply and encouraging and fostering continued growth for farmers and the agricultural industry.
A big thank you to those of you who took time to complete my legislative survey. It is always great to receive feedback from you on the issues being debated here in St. Paul. Here are the results from this year’s survey.
How should Minnesota pay for transportation improvements such as rebuilding roads and bridges?
Impose a new gas tax as Governor Dayton has proposed: 18.43%
Issue state bonds to make improvements: 14.06%
Don't raise taxes. Instead, prioritize existing transportation funds: 68.2%
What is the best approach for addressing the problems with the Obamacare exchange (MNsure) in Minnesota?
It isn't working, repeal it entirely: 43.09%
It can be fixed by enacting significant reforms: 21.43%
It's working, keep as it is currently: 10.83%
Give Minnesotans more options outside of MNsure: 26.04%
Current law requires school districts to make layoff decisions based on teacher seniority where the last hired teacher is the first to be let go. Should state law be changed to allow school districts to also consider teacher effectiveness in determining layoffs?
Yes, districts should be able to use every tool available to provide the best education for our children: 67.05%
No, it's not that simple and defining effectiveness can become a tool for every school administrators to play favorites: 19.82%
Undecided/Need more information: 11.98%
According to figures from the Minnesota Department of Human Services, nearly a third of abortions in Minnesota are taxpayer funded. Do you support your tax dollars being used to fund abortions?
The February Forecast showed that Minnesota is projected to have a $1.9 billion surplus for Minnesota’s 2016-17 budget. What should the legislature do with that money?
Increase Spending: 9.22%
Keep in the state’s budget reserves: 48.16%
Cut taxes: 45.16%
From your perspective, what is the best way to grow jobs in Minnesota?
Increase state funding for construction projects across Minnesota: 10.83%
Pass tax relief and incentives to encourage business growth and job creation: 39.86%
Limit state spending to the amount of revenue taken in and slow government growth: 28.34%
Use surplus funds to offer income tax relief so taxpayers can keep more of their hard-earned money: 20.28%
Raise taxes and increase spending on state programs: .46%
Increase education funding and focus on workforce development: 24.65%
Do you believe state funding for nursing homes and long-term care programs for seniors and the disabled should be:
Kept the same: 21.20%
Thanks for taking time to read this week’s update. As always, please feel free to contact me via e-mail at Rep.Mary.Franson@House.MN or contact my office at 651-296-3201. You can also send mail to my office address: 517 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155.