[St. Cloud Times] Our View: Dayton’s I-94 Plans Welcomed

Gov. Mark Dayton’s announcement Thursday that up to $46 million will be spent as soon as summer to expand Interstate Highway 94 between Rogers and St. Michael is extremely welcome news.

These bonding dollars are not just a down payment on expanding this critical corridor all the way to St. Cloud, but in providing the funding necessary to maintain and expand roads and highways statewide.

The focus of Corridors of Commerce is to improve roads that are bottlenecked or considered critical to regional economic development but not funded under MnDOT’s latest “fiscally constrained” 20-year transportation plan.

Given this area’s rapid growth, its legislators should stand ready to work with Dayton to craft viable long-term funding. If not, they need to be honest with constituents about why congestion is increasing. [Read More]

[Pioneer Press] Governor Dayton Announces Ten Road Projects Geared Toward Improving Commerce

Gov. Mark Dayton and state Transportation Commissioner Charlie Zelle revealed the locations of 10 projects across that state to be funded with $300 million in bonds authorized by the Legislature last spring.

At a Capitol news conference, Dayton called the initiative "the first big step forward in our goal of expanding the scope of Minnesota's transportation renovations and improvements."

Zelle said the goal of the initiative, dubbed the "Corridors of Commerce" program, is to add lane capacity to highway segments with bottlenecks, move freight more efficiently and reduce barriers to commerce.

Dayton said the newly funded projects would "benefit tens of thousands of Minnesotans ... and save lives." In addition, he said, it will "showcase what can be done" if the state spends more on transportation projects.

Ninety percent of the qualified projects did not get corridors funding, Dayton noted, so there's still "enormous need out there."

An advisory group he appointed in 2011 called for raising an additional $50 billion in taxes and fees over the next 20 years to meet the state's road, bridge and transit needs. [Read More

[Star Tribune] Next Act for Gov. Mark Dayton Centers on Reform

DFL Gov. Mark Dayton is plotting what could become the biggest streamlining of state government in decades as he pivots into the last year of his first term and prepares to face voters for re-election.

After winning significant victories on taxes and economic development earlier this year, Dayton now is asking his DFL allies who control the House and Senate to focus much of the upcoming legislative session on eliminating wasteful, redundant or antiquated laws.

Earlier this month, Dayton assembled nearly 1,000 state government managers for a morning-long meeting at St. Catherine University. It was the first such managers’ gathering since the administration of Gov. Jesse Ventura and only the second in the last 35 years.

Now he’s looking for more dramatic improvements to make consumers’ interaction with state government more efficient and satisfying. That includes shorter, simpler state tax forms for individuals, faster permitting for businesses, less paperwork for teachers.

“If I could wave a magic wand and eliminate all this duplication, redundancy, excessive paperwork and reporting, that would do more to restore citizens’ faith in government than just about anything else I can think of,” Dayton said in an interview with the Star Tribune. “I don’t have a magic wand, it is going to take time, but I am serious about it.” [Read More]

November 18, 2013  |  News Alerts

[KSTP] Minneapolis Homeless Youth Program Gets Boost in Funding 

Half of the homeless population in the twin cities is made up of young people.Today a program that aims to get them off the streets got a major boost from the Minnesota Department of Human Services.

Full Cycle bike shop opened back in 2008 in south Minneapolis. For owner Matt Tennant, it's a combination of his work as a counselor for at risk youth and his love of bikes.

The shop employs young people that are often homeless, offering them a paid internship and critical skills.

"We have high expectations we do employ them, our job is not only to teach bike mechanics but also the professionalism behind having a job and keeping a job and looking for future employment" said Tennant.

The shop receives funding from the Department of Human Services. Just this year, legislators approved $4 million for homeless youth programs.

This year, full cycle will receive $125,000 to hire more interns. Nearly 100 interns have come through the doors since 2008. [Read More]


[KARE 11] Minnesota Veteran Gets Job as Police Chief Thanks to New Law

A new change in state law makes it easier for military police to transfer their law enforcement skills to the streets of Minnesota.

Until 2013 retiring military police officers seeking to take the reciprocity exam, to prove that their military experience translated to civilian police work, had to until they had a document showing they had left the armed forces in good standing.

That key piece of paperwork, known as the DD-214 form, describes the veteran's service and indicates whether he or she was honorably discharged. It is often delayed, and that can slow the transition to life outside the military.

A bill passed by the 2013 legislature, and signed into law by Gov. Mark Dayton, removes that hurdle and makes it easier for active duty personnel to apply for civilian jobs in Minnesota during the closing weeks of their military service.

"It was fortunate for me because I was able to take the reciprocity exam and become licensed as a peace officer here in Minnesota sooner than I would have," Dave Thompson, the new police chief in city of Howard Lake, told KARE. [Read More]


[USA Today] Minnesota Offers Significantly Lower Health Insurance Rates Than Wisconsin

When Joe Atkins hunkered down to draft legislation outlining how Minnesota would implement the Affordable Care Act, he had no idea the results would be so dramatic.

The Gopher State is now enrolling individuals through its health-insurance exchange by the thousands and at premium rates that are among the lowest in the country.

Next door in Wisconsin, the numbers of Obamacare enrollees have barely hit the hundreds and rates are between 25 and 35 percent higher than in Minnesota.

"I wish that wasn't the case, but I'm sure glad," says Atkins, a Democratic Farm Labor Party state lawmaker. "Folks are thinking I'm pretty smart right now."

Minnesotans and Wisconsinites share a long-standing rivalry -- in politics, business, and, of course, on the football field. But the new health law has opened another front in the competition. And so far, Minnesota is ahead.

The reason for the large gap in rates is unclear but could be, in part, because of the more aggressive approach Minnesota has taken to implementing the law. [Read More]

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