One of my assignments here at the Senate is to serve on the Capital Investment Committee, also known as the “bonding committee.” This is the committee that is responsible for investing in critical statewide infrastructure.

As you can imagine, we get a lot of requests from around the state, but we have finite resources. We usually pass a substantial bonding bill in even-numbered years. Before doing so, the committee has to jump on a bus and go visit these projects to learn about them firsthand.

Recently, we completed the first leg of the 2019 bonding tour by visiting projects in northeast Minnesota.

Our first stop was in Becker, where we learned about the city’s plans to expand their business park. Next, we went to Grand Rapids to hear about Bovey’s planned infrastructure improvements, a project for the IRA Civic Center, and asset preservation at Itasca Community College. We also had stops in Cohasset, Hibbing, and Chisholm for several development and infrastructure projects.

The most interesting stop of the first day was at the Hull-Rust mine near Hibbing. It’s the largest open pit mine in the world. If you haven’t been up there, I suggest you make a trip up to visit. It’s important to tour the facility and learn about the endless ways that mining impacts our economy and how it contributes to our GDP. Virtually every facet of our economy begins in a mine somewhere. It’s a special place and we are fortunate to have it.

We started day 2 in Virginia at their public safety center, then we visited the Lake Vermillion-Soudan Mine, which is another terrific place to visit if you are ever in the northland and interested in mining. In Ely we learned about a community hospital project, two projects for the local community college, and two trailhead projects

We began day 3 in Two Harbors, to learn about their wastewater facility improvement plans. We stopped in Duluth to see plans to rehabilitate coastal infrastructure and learn about assistance requests for the port. Then we visited the local sanitary district to learn about their plans to cut costs for customers by adding new energy generators. We visited two community colleges (Fond Du Lac Tribal Community College and Pine Technical Community College), and learned about a planned water distribution system for Twin Lakes Township. Finally, the tour wrapped up in Cambridge, where we learned about a planned railroad crossing improvement and a project to expand Highway 95.

The days are long on these tours. We typically start early and end late, and it’s a lot of travel. But it is an important part of the job. Taxpayers are counting on us to be diligent in the way we invest in state resources, and the only way to prioritize which projects need funding the most is to visit them and learn about them firsthand.

This was just the first tour. At the beginning of October we will tour the northwest part of the state, and in the coming weeks we’ll visit the other areas of Minnesota as well.

If you have any questions about these projects or any feedback, I would love to hear it. Feel free to contact me any time at 651-296-0284 or sen.john.jasinski@senate.mn.

Sen. John Jasinski, R-Faribault, is the state senator for District 24, which includes most of Steele County, as well as portions of Dodge, Rice and Waseca counties. Reach him at sen.john.jasinski@senate.mn or 651-296-0284.

Jeffrey Jackson is the managing editor of the Owatonna People's Press. He can be reached at 507-444-2371 or via email at jjackson@owatonna.com

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