Sparks focusing on a budget

Published 10:21 am Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A local senator is working to pass local bonding requests this year.

District 27 Sen. Dan Sparks, DFL-Austin, said he is working closely with local entities on bonding requests, such as infrastructure improvements in the Stables area, a Riverland Community College request and development of Blazing Star Landing.

Dan Sparks

Dan Sparks

A bonding bill that included Stables area and Riverland bonding requests did not pass during last year’s legislative session.

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Sparks said though his focus this year will be on passing a budget, he still hopes bonding and tax bills pass.

The $7.4 million Riverland Community College request is to relocate truck driving and collision programs from Austin to Albert Lea and to integrate programs into shared spaces with auto service and diesel programs. The Stables area request is for money to extend sanitary sewer lines to the Stables area. The city of Albert Lea requested $3.5 million in bonding in 2016 to move Front Street north to make way for lakefront development and preliminary preparation work north of the railroad.

Sparks said the project could receive bonding dollars or funding from a Department of Employment and Economic Development grant program.

Sparks is co-authoring a bill that creates a 40 percent tax credit as an incentive to encourage developers, investors and local businesses to support the construction of middle-income housing in Greater Minnesota.

He is also co-authoring a bill that would create a state cancer registry for firefighters with cancer. A member of the Workers’ Compensation Advisory Council, Sparks hopes to allow for more firefighters who have cancer caused by responding to calls be covered by workers’ compensation.

Sparks plans to meet with Shell Rock River Watershed District officials on Wednesday at the Capitol about a bill that would extend the district’s 1/2 percent sales tax for either 15 years or until $15 million has been collected.

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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