Willmar, MN — Rep. Dave Baker, R-Willmar, welcomed the Job Growth and Energy Affordability Committee to Willmar on Monday, where the committee heard testimony and passed the Rural Propane Relief Act, HF550, a bill chief authored by Rep. Baker to increase the availability and affordability of propane and natural gas in Greater Minnesota. The hearing took place at Minn-West Technology Campus in Willmar. Willmar Mayor Marv Calvin provided opening remarks, and local students Preston de Cathelineau and Nick Revier from Willmar served as honorary committee pages.
Annie Levenson-Falk, the Executive Director of the Legislative Energy Commission gave an overview on Propane Conversion Strategies, and provided an overview on the causes of last winter’s propane shortage.
The committee also heard testimony on the bill from the Minnesota Propane Association, the Heartland Community Action Agency, which helps provides energy assistance to low-income Minnesotans, the Cooperative Network and management from CHS, an agribusiness company involved in energy issues.
Kandiyohi County resident Steve Uchytil, a turkey and deer farmer who uses propane at his home testified about the impact that high propane prices had on the finances of his neighbors and friends, and noted the positive impact that the bill would have in preventing future price spikes.
The bill passed on a voice vote and now heads to the Tax Committee.
“Help is on the way to prevent a future propane crisis like the one we saw last winter,” Baker said. “I appreciate the quick work and support from the Jobs and Energy Committee, and want to thank all of the Kandiyohi County residents who came to today’s hearing in support of this bill.”
“Rep. Baker has stepped up and taken the lead to expand availability and help shield Minnesotans from future propane crises,” added Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, the Chair of the Job Growth and Energy Affordability Committee. “It was great to see such strong support for this bill in Rep. Baker’s hometown and hear how this will make a positive difference in the lives of Minnesota families.”