The legislative session begins

A lot is happening at the Capitol in this first year of the new biennium. Bills are being written and getting their first hearing before heading through the committee process.

Already this session, I have introduced three new bills. The first requests $2 million for design and replacement of the Rice Street Bridge over 694. In 1994, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) listed this bridge for replacement; however the project was laid over until the others to the east and west were completed. The state finished the "Unweave the Weave" project a few years ago, and as many of you know the freeway improvements between Victoria Street and 35W are in full swing and should be completed in 2014. So now, it is time to finish the "pinch point" between those two projects. Many of our local businesses have requested that the bridge be replaced because of the great congestion there during morning and evening rush hours. Employees, customers and visitors struggle to get to these businesses, and the shipping of products to market is hampered by the traffic slowdown.

Minnesota has more Fortune 500 companies per capita than any other state in the nation. These companies create many small businesses in the area which provide for supplies and other needs. We are behind in our infrastructure improvements and we certainly don't want to lose our local companies to other states where highways and freeways enable better product movement.

Another highway bill I have introduced asks for $35 million to improve the Highway 10/35W corridor on the west side of the Twin City Arms and Ammunition Plant (TCAAP). Last year this site was designated the new home for the Minnesota Vikings. However, one of the site's discussed negatives was the lack of proper infrastructure to properly move increased traffic on game days. Anyone who travels in that area knows it is difficult to navigate through the various highways. And undoubtedly, this will remain a detriment to development of the site. Now, Ramsey County has purchased the land and has signed an agreement with the city of Arden Hills to further the project. The north suburban area is ready for business, and the money we requested will enable greater economic development of this very important area.

My last bill introduction so far this session regards data privacy of citizen information provided to the local government upon initial contact. Current law states that all data is considered public when a resident contacts city hall to get on the city's mailing list. Therefore any political campaign or commercial operation can simply contact the local government and request the e-mails, phone numbers and addresses of residents who have contacted them. For example, a recent political campaign in a nearby community requested and received the local government's citizen data for its personal use. My bill would make sure that your contact information remains private. I have requested a Senate hearing, and one is already scheduled in the House. I expect this bill to move through the legislative process soon.

To stay in touch with legislative updates, I urge you to contact me at my Capitol office. My phone number is 651-296-5537. Or contact me via e-mail at sen.bev.scalze@senate.mn or mail at 124 Capitol , 75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, St. Paul, MN 55155-1606.