School Building Bond Legislative Update

The Legislature and the Governor wrapped up another session, with the Governor signing all the major budget bills as well as the omnibus tax and elections bills. There are several important provisions included in all three bills that will affect school district budgets and facilities planning. Because this is a “budget” year, the major omnibus bills needed to be signed into law to keep the government funded. As a result, there are many provisions that were enacted, but we intend to only highlight the major changes, and primarily those in the facilities area. There were many smaller changes that might affect some districts but not others. Ehlers has tracked the changes for you.

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Next step with the Appleton Prison

According to InForum

Legislation calling on the state to purchase or lease-to-own the Prairie Correctional Facility in Appleton did not make it through the 2017 session, but the state is now obligated to take a serious look at the possibility of utilizing the facility.

Legislation approved and signed by Gov. Mark Dayton requires the Department of Corrections to hire an independent contractor to assess the facility and determine what, if any improvements would be required if the state were to house its inmates there. The assessment must be completed by January 15, 2018.

The Appleton Option announced the recent legislation to supporters on Friday, pointing out that it does not necessarily mean the facility will re-open as a state-run correctional facility. But it calls the legislation a “critical first step” in providing information towards that goal.

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Governor Dayton approves independent assessment of the Prairie Correctional Facility in Appleton

Thanks to Appleton Option for the update… 

During the 2017 legislative session, we continued our work at the Capitol with Representative Tim Miller (R-Prinsburg), Senator Andrew Lang (R-Olivia), and other state lawmakers to advocate for the Appleton Option – a common-sense solution that will ease prison overcrowding in Minnesota and provide good opportunities for Appleton, Swift County, and our entire region.

We are pleased to inform you that Governor Dayton has signed into law a provision that directs the department of corrections to conduct an independent assessment of the Prairie Correctional Facility in Appleton!

While this does not necessarily mean that the Appleton prison will re-open as a state-run correctional facility, the report is a critical first step in providing legislators with the information they need to move forward in the future.

Here is the full language, which was included in the public safety omnibus bill (HF 470).

While Governor Dayton did sign all of the budget bills into law this week, much uncertainty remains. In another bill, the Governor used his line-item veto authority to eliminate all funding for the Legislature beginning July 1, 2017 – a response to a provision included in the tax bill that the Governor called a “reprehensible sneak attack,” and an effort to get state lawmakers back to the negotiating table.

Legislative leaders are already arguing that the Governor’s move is unconstitutional, and are planning to hire outside legal counsel to take the issue to court.

We’ll continue to keep you posted. For now, the good news is that the Appleton language has been signed into law and the department of corrections will hopefully begin the assessment process quickly.

Be sure to like our Appleton Option Facebook page for continuing updates!

Benson commits $10,000 annually toward daycare as economic development strategy

Lack of childcare is an issue in LqP County. It’s interesting to see how other communities are handling the situation. The Swift County Monitor News reports on one way…

Council Member Terri Collins said she strongly believes that supporting the school’s daycare operation is economic development. Collins moved the city contribute up to $10,000 annually to the school’s daycare operations with a second by Council Member Lucas Olson. Council Members Collins, Olson, Stephanie Heinzig and Jack Evenson, along with Mayor Gary Landmark, voted in favor of the financial commitment.

To get input on the daycare’s operations from the local government entities and businesses that have made financial commitments, the school is creating an advisory board. Donors will each have one seat on the board. Olson was appointed by the council as its representative.

Adequate day services are seen as an essential economic development challenge for many rural communities in Minnesota, but a growing shortage is hurting employee recruitment and retention for businesses from manufacturers to main street. It is also a significant problem for public employers trying to bring new people to the area

Brewery saves the Nebraskan town!

Have you seen a great article about economic development elsewhere that you would like to share with our readers?  This came in from someone in Dawson that shared this story with us…

At Scratchtown Brewery in Ord, Nebraska, locals drink to newfound success of once-dying town | The Better Half | omaha.com

You have an image fixed in your head of a small-town Nebraska bar, an image of three weather-beaten old boys in seed caps perched on bar stools, silently sipping Busch Lights as the dusty old jukebox wheezes a dusty old country song.

Works just fine, so far as stereotypes go, right up until the moment you enter Ord’s Scratchtown Brewery on an unseasonably warm Thursday evening.

The indoor taproom and outdoor patio are packed with 30-something professionals — the sort of people who do not exist in the stereotype. They sit elbow to elbow with the City Council president, a mailman, a trucker and a couple of farmers and hoist a variety of Scratchtown’s own beers: double IPAs, imperial porters and dopplebocks. There is no dusty jukebox here. There is no Busch Light.

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Farmers leading progress on buffer requirement

From AgWeek...

Clean water matters to Minnesota. No matter where we live or what we do, Minnesotans want our families and future generations to enjoy water that’s fishable, swimmable and drinkable. When Gov. Mark Dayton proposed new buffer legislation two years ago, he recognized that we are at a watershed moment in our state’s history when it comes to protecting water quality. The governor also reiterated his call that protecting Minnesota’s water quality requires each of us to participate in the process. The agriculture community has played a significant part in moving the state closer to our goal of improving the state’s water quality.

As the three top state officials charged with implementing the buffer law, we want to thank you, Minnesota’s farmers and landowners, who have accomplished much of what the governor envisioned — and more. Thanks to you, we have made incredible progress in a short amount of time. With eight months before the first buffer deadline for public waters, the Department of Natural Resources has released its final maps. These maps were finalized after reviewing more than 4,200 public comments and making 2,800 changes. Your collaboration in this process resulted in more accurate maps ready for use.

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Webcast Series for Retirement and Health Plan Sponsors Mar 14, 16 and 21

Webcast Series for Retirement and Health Plan Sponsors

Operating an employee benefit plan can be challenging, especially for small and medium sized employers who have limited time, resources, and access to professional help with benefit programs.  To help increase awareness and understanding about basic fiduciary responsibilities when operating a retirement or health benefit plan, the Department of Labor is presenting the Getting It Right – Know Your Fiduciary Responsibilities webcast series.

The webcast series will help employers and service providers understand how the fiduciary responsibility provisions of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) apply to employer-sponsored retirement and health plans, and provide information on how to avoid common problems in managing a plan.

  • Tuesday, March 14, 2017, 2:00 pm ET / 11:00am PT
  • Thursday, March 16, 2017, 2:00 pm ET / 11:00am PT
  • Tuesday, March 21, 2017, 2:00 pm ET / 11:00am PT

Register here