Sunday, November 16, 2008

Early November 2008

Blaine Airport Expansion: I just received word that Anoka County is considering an expansion of the Blaine Airport from 5,000 feet to 6,000 feet. About four years ago I was aware that an original expansion to 5,000 feet would allow planes to do "instrument landings," meaning that they could land without having the engine cranked up and therefore could reduce noise over my district in Lexington, Circle Pines, Lino Lakes, and possibly Shoreview. The expansion to 6,000 feet would allow more safety but would bump up the Blaine Airport up to "intermediate airport" status, which could allow more flights and larger planes flying over 53A. Minnesota Statutes 360.365 has a list of the aircraft that can fly into an intermediate airport: single engine or light to medium multiengine aircraft. Right now the airport can accommodate single engine or light multiengine planes.

[11/17 update: I have received a ton of e-mail from constituents in Circle Pines, Lino Lakes, Lexington, and Shoreview complaining about increased noise from flights just in the last year.]

Anoka County is considering a resolution that would support the expansion, but there hasn't been a whole lot of public information about it. However, on Tuesday, November 18th, Anoka County's airport committee and intergovernmental committees will be meeting to act on the resolution starting at 11:00 a.m. in the Anoka County Government Center. The legislature would have to act on this expansion as well but this would be a good opportunity for citizens to give their input. I will be attending the meeting, and would appreciate any input from district residents to pass along.

Park and ride update: The Met Council informs me that a park-and-ride at Highway 14 and 35W (in Lino Lakes just a few blocks east of Centerville) is likely to be designed in 2009 and then built in 2010 or 2011.

Shoreview to Minneapolis express bus to stay: Metro Transit reports that it will keep running the 261 express bus from Shoreview City Hall to Minneapolis three times a day in each direction. Metro Transit set up a demonstration route of the route last year by extending to route from Roseville City Hall to Shoreview. If there were more than 16 riders between Shoreview and Roseville, the route would stay. The ridership has been strong and steady, and the route is now permanent!

E-waste: There was a story on 60 Minutes on November 9th about how some electronic waste from the United States ends up poisoning communities in China. I'm working on some legislation that would help address this issue in Minnesota, but much of the responsibility and enforcement lies with the federal government. In another development, a non-profit group called the Electronics TakeBack Coalition just issued a report card on the major TV manufacturers on their recycling programs.

Conservation Rate Structure legislation follow-up: Legislation I authored last year required public water suppliers to create a conservation rate structure to promote conservation of our drinking water supply. The DNR has prepared a two-page primer for water authorities to better understand how the rates work.

Higher Education Veterans Programs: While at Century College in November, I found a helpful brochure and web site informing veterans, military personnel, and their families of their opportunites for higher education.

Schedule: Things have picked up since the election! On Thursday, November 6th, I spoke at the Recycling Association of Minnesota's annual conference about legislation related to solid waste and recycling. In the evening, the House DFL Caucus met in St. Paul and we elected Margaret Kelliher as Speaker and Tony Sertich as Majority Leader. On Monday, November 10th, I attended a Metropolitan Council District Dialogue in Maplewood, where Peter Bell gave an update on actions by the Met Council. Many city, county, and state elected officials attended. Later, I attended a meeting of the Lincoln Bicentennial Commission in St. Paul. Rep. Dean Urdahl (R-Grove City) is the organizer and I'm the DFLer on the committee. On Thursday, November 13th, I spoke to a group of canvassers at Clean Water Action in Minneapolis about recent drinking water issues at the Legislature. In the afternoon, I attended a Veterans' Day ceremony at Century College to help open a new veterans' center. My colleague Bob Dettmer (R-Forest Lake), who has been a member of the MN National Guard for several decades, gave the keynote address. Later in the afternoon, I attended a meeting in Circle Pines regarding the future opening of a county library in Lino Lakes, and then I stopped by a reception in North Oaks to welcome the new members of the city council. On Friday, November 14th, I participated in a meeting by the MPCA on product stewardship of beverage containers. The states of Wisconsin and Minnesota are engaging the beverage industry about how to increase recycling of cans and bottles. (Recycling cans in particular helps reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.)

During this period I have also been working with House Research staff to figure out what legislation I will be working on in 2009. Constituents and colleagues have been suggesting a ton of ideas of things to address where I might be able to help. I also managed to clean up my office so I can find stuff and be ready for the session.

Constituent contacts: Lino Lakes and Circle Pines residents about proposed Blaine Airport expansion; Shoreview resident asking about legislative plans to balance the budget for the 2010-2011 biennium; Shoreview resident about Congressional action on a federal lands issue; Shoreview resident asking for legislation prohibiting dog tethering (we all got about 200 identical e-mails on this from all over the state); Lino Lakes resident and Circle Pines resident supporting get-tough strategy for illegal immigration