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Legislative highlights discussed at Cass County board

WALKER -- State Sen. Tom Saxhaug, DFL-Grand Rapids, and Rep. Tom Anzelc, DFL-Poplar Township, discussed highlights during the Tuesday Cass County Board meeting that they saw coming from the 2014 legislative session.

WALKER - State Sen. Tom Saxhaug, DFL-Grand Rapids, and Rep. Tom Anzelc, DFL-Poplar Township, discussed highlights during the Tuesday Cass County Board meeting that they saw coming from the 2014 legislative session.

Saxhaug noted the Legislature focused on returning $550 million of the $1.2 billion surplus to the people in the form of income, sales and property tax relief. For the first time in 13 years, the Legislature also invested $150 million more in the budget reserves, he said.

The Legislature conveyed $20 million to the low income heating assistance program, he noted. Saxhaug also cited the expedited licensure bill he authored, which will help streamline the licensing process (typically teaching or nursing) for returning veterans, military members and their spouses.

The Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Fund bill this year directs $16.1 million for forests and $4 million to establish an aquatic invasive species research center at University of Minnesota from the 3/8th cent sales tax, he said.

Saxhaug noted the state bonding bill this year included funding for the Myles Reif Performing Arts Center at Grand Rapids and for Bemidji State University.

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He said the two major issues he sees facing the 2015 legislative session will be transportation funding, which did not get addressed this session, and a review of the state’s child protection methods to determine whether legislative intent is being carried out.

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