David's Blog

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Having Our Voice Heard at the Capitol

Duluth and Saint Louis County at the Capitol remains the largest, boldest and most effective community gathering at the State Capitol. The largest citizen lobbying event in Minnesota, Duluth and St. Louis County at the Capitol brings more than six hundred voters to the Capitol annually, voters who advocate for initiatives and capital projects that will improve the quality of life for residents of our region.

Started in 1997 as a vehicle to focus state legislators' attention on our region's needs, the annual event requires months of planning; financial support from dozens of local businesses and organizations; and the energy and enthusiasm of hundreds of Duluth and Saint Louis County residents. Duluth and St. Louis County at the Capitol is one of only a few Minnesota lobbying events that is successful in bringing together a coalition of business and labor leaders, city councilors, county commissioners, school board members and private citizens in a coordinated advocacy effort.

Months of planning, at the local level, have allowed us to generate a list of 2008 Minnesota State Legislative Funding Priorities for our region. We will advocate for the funding of these priorities when we gather at the Capitol on February 25 and 26.

Our funding requests include: the DECC Arena at $40 million; the UMD Civil Engineering Building at $10 million; the WLSSD Sanitary Sewer Overflow Storage Basins at $12.7 million; the Airport Authority's New Airport Terminal at $5.7 million; Lake Superior College's New Health and Science Building at $11 million; St. Louis County Water Line and Sewer improvements at $2.5 million; and the Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College's Land Acquisition at $1.8 million.

We have our work cut out for us. Many other communities are also asking the State of Minnesota to fund their proposed building projects. There is over $3.4 billion in state bonding requests this year. In response to these funding requests, Governor Pawlenty recently announced a $965 million bonding proposal, which would fund only 23% of the requests.

Our success in gaining State funding for our projects will depend on: the efficacy of our area elected officials; the health of the State's economy; the Governor's advocacy for our projects; and our efficacy in making our collective voice heard at the Capitol. Be assured, the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce will continue to partner with our brothers and sisters in labor, education, government and business to advance our region's funding requests at the State's 2008 Legislative Session. I encourage you to take an active interest in the growth and development of our region by joining us at Duluth & St. Louis County at the Capitol and helping our collective voice be heard. For additional information or to register for the event go to www.duluthandstlouiscounty.com.

posted by David Ross at

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