Bonding bill makes needed investments

Published 10:00 am Sunday, May 1, 2016

Senate Report by Dan Sparks

Last week, I had the opportunity to have breakfast with Gov. Dayton. I was honored to be invited by the governor to join a small group at his residence to visit about important issues we are facing at the Legislature. We had a great discussion, and I was happy to share the perspective of southern Minnesota and issues important to our district. These types of meetings are an important way to foster relationships and find ways to work together to get things done.

Dan Sparks

Dan Sparks

We talked about a variety of critical issues we are still facing this year. One issue we spent a significant amount of time talking about was bonding. My colleagues in the Senate and I are committed to putting together a robust bonding bill that can work for every part of Minnesota. This year we have an opportunity to make a strong investment in capital improvements, maintenance and economic development across the state. I hope my colleagues in the House will recognize the great need for this and also pass a strong capital investment bill.

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While meeting with the governor, I was able to advocate for local bonding projects. There are five bonding projects brought forward by the city of Albert Lea, Freeborn County and Riverland Community College that we are working on getting included in the final bill. As a member of the Capital Investment Committee, I have lobbied hard on their behalf with my fellow committee members and the committee chair. I was also sure to let the governor know just how important these projects are for our area.

One of the major projects is Albert Lea’s Blazing Star Landing proposal. The city has a vision to highlight and utilize the lakes as part of their community and economic development goals. This is a significant, multi-phase project that they would like to get started on by moving Front Street closer to the railroad and open up this valued area for new recreational, community and business development.

Water infrastructure is an area that has definitely been a priority for Dayton this year. In line with that priority, I have been working with city and county officials since I was first elected to fund connecting the Staples area to our sewer and water infrastructure. I am optimistic that we can finish this important work with the inclusion of this in our final bonding bill.

We have several trail projects being considered this year including the bridge connection for the Blazing Star Trail over Albert Lea Lake. This is a project that has been on the DNR list for completion, but we were informed that they are now short of funding to complete the project. In addition the county is hoping to develop a multiuse trail connection between Albert Lea and Manchester. The trail would make use of a former Union Pacific rail line, which is ripe for development.

In addition to these city and county projects, I am carrying a bill for the expansion of the Trade and Industrial Education Center at Riverland Community College on the Albert Lea campus. The Senate always makes a strong investment in our state colleges and universities as part of the bonding bill and I hope there is enough funding directed toward MnSCU to get this done.

A bonding bill would make needed investments for public assets across the state, creating jobs now and supporting Minnesota’s economy. Our communities has benefited from these partnerships with the state in the past and would be well-served by a robust bonding bill this year.

If you have questions or concerns about legislation and the session, I encourage you to contact my office at 651-296-9248 or at


Dan Sparks, DFL-Austin, is the District 27 senator.