Editorial: It’s time for legislators to take some action

Published 9:30 am Monday, May 16, 2016

With about a week left in this year’s legislative session, we and the rest of the state are waiting for results.

Much is left to be done, and we hope legislators will be able to put aside their differences and reach compromise on several issues, namely transportation and bonding bills.

Everyone across the state will agree on the need for a long-term transportation bill, but what cannot be agreed on is how to get there. Meanwhile, roads in Albert Lea and Freeborn County continue to deteriorate.

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Freeborn County Engineer Sue Miller last month said the county has a $6 million yearly funding deficit for roads, even after the passage of a wheelage tax in 2013 and a half-cent sales tax last summer. More than 100 miles of paved Freeborn County highways in the next 10 years will be in need of funding.

The longer we wait, the larger — and more costly — the problem becomes.

The bonding bill, on a separate note, is often one of Greater Minnesota’s few chances to complete major projects aimed at economic development.

Without bonding bills of the past, Albert Lea would not have received $7.5 million for the upcoming dredging of Fountain Lake, along with funds for the cleanup of the former landfill in part of Edgewater Park and for the development of the Blazing Star Trail. These projects benefit not only Albert Lea, but Minnesota as well.

Development on the Blazing Star Landing at the site of the former Farmland Foods plant — which would receive funding under this year’s Senate bonding proposal — will do the same.

Aside from economic development opportunities, one of the most critical pieces in the bonding bill this year is funding to support clean water infrastructure across the state.

In our area, that includes funds to connect sanitary sewer and water to about 60 houses in the Stables area north of Albert Lea. Many of these homes have failing septic systems. While this may not be a flashy project, it sure is needed.

We urge residents to contact their legislators and voice to them the importance of these bills.

District 27 Sen. Dan Sparks, DFL-Austin, can be reached at:

95 University Avenue W.

Minnesota Senate Building, Room 2401

St. Paul, MN 55155



District 27A Rep. Peggy Bennett, R-Albert Lea, can be reached at:

507 State Office Building

100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

St. Paul, MN 55155