The 2021 legislative session is in full swing. Most hearings and activities are still being conducted remotely due to the pandemic, but the pace is as frenetic as any other year.

Here is a roundup of some of the issues I’ve been working on.

Helmets to Hardhats

Those of you who have followed my work since I have been in the Senate know that helping veterans has always been a top priority. I come from a proud military family, and I take seriously the debt that we owe to the brave men and women who serve this nation.

Each year I have been in the senate I have carried the Helmets to Hardhats bill. “Helmets to Hardhats” is a national nonprofit that helps military service members transition into civilian life by connecting them with opportunities in the construction industry. I am proud to carry this bill again in 2021.

We all know veterans who have returned from active duty and had trouble transitioning to a new career. Helmets to Hardhats bridges that gap by assisting veterans in their search for a new occupation so they can build a family, contribute to their community, and pursue their dreams. Helmets to Hardhats is a win-win-win situation — veterans win, businesses win, and the state of Minnesota wins.

Upgrades to the Byllesby Dam

The 110-year-old dam that separates Lake Byllesby from the Cannon River at the southern edge of Dakota County is in need of upgrades. It is safe for residents, but back in 2007, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission required the dam be upgraded to handle a worst-case scenario flood because of downriver development.

Work on these upgrades has been conducted for the better part of a decade. Dakota County already added two crest gates to help with flood control, and five years ago a number of structural improvements were completed. The next step is renovating the dam’s reliable, carbon-free power production infrastructure. Last October’s bonding bill had $6 million for this effort, and this year I introduced a bill that will provide an additional $9 million to fund the completion of these upgrades.

Broadband expansion

Minnesota’s office of Broadband Development recently announced that the city of Welch and areas of Goodhue County have been selected to receive funding for broadband improvements as part of the latest round of funding from the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program.

In Welch, Nuvera Communications received a grant of $340,790 to serve 100 unserved and 15 underserved residents. Nuvera also received $532,232 to serve 150 unserved and underserved locations in Goodhue, Zumbrota, Minneola, and Belle Creek in Goodhue County and Chester Township in Wabasha County.

This broadband expansion will help rural households in these areas connect to health care and education opportunities, while businesses and farms will have new tools to grow and enhance their operations.

Contact me

If you ever have any questions or feedback, or if you would like to set up an opportunity to meet, please feel free to contact me anytime. It is a privilege to serve you!

Mike Goggin, R-Red wing, represents District 21 in the Minnesota Senate. Reach him at 651-296-5612 or sen.mike.goggin@senate.mn.

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