HJ/EDMarch 20, 2006

Urdahl, Dille look ahead to session

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

Representative Dean Urdahl (R) and Senator Steve Dille (R) met with community members Saturday, March 11, for an informal meeting to discuss issues in the upcoming legislative session.

Among the topics discussed were funding for state parks, job growth, and money for schools losing students to open enrollment.

Urdahl plans to give $1,000 per pupil unit to each school losing money due to open enrollment.

For example, Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted has a 23.2 percent loss to open enrollment whereas DC has an 8 percent increase.

His goal is to stabilize the losses for each school district affected.

Urdahl explained how small schools, such as Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City, lose $700,000 a year to open enrollment.

In turn, schools have to cut programs because they are losing students and then lose more students because they are cutting programs, he explained.

Urdahl will also suggest a bill to increase job growth in “distress areas” which includes 50 counties, such as Meeker County, and to the west and southwest.

He hopes to bring five jobs to each county. “This doesn’t seem like much, but it’s a big deal for a small town,” Urdahl said.

He went on to explain how five jobs could bring 15 to 20 for kids into the school districts.

Another bill Urdahl has proposed is a special liscence in which the proceeds would go towards funding methampthetamine treatment programs.

As far as education, Dille will present a bill created to provide money for a comprehensive character education programs in school districts similar to Dassel-Cokato’s Character Pillars.

The bill would provide $30 per pupil unit for the initial year. This would include teacher training, workbooks, and educational assemblies.

Character education has proven to increase student performance and attendance, according to Dille, and schools should get money incentives for such programs.

Dille hopes to pass a bonding bill for the expansion of the Wright County Park System to prevent development in certain areas.

Odds and Ends

• Creating a Green Leaf State Park.

• Paving Luce Line trail.

• Providing money for Cedar Mills and Watkins waste water treatment plants.

• Creating a railroad switching yard in Glencoe.

He also hopes to pass a bill that would change the environmental assessment worksheet to include not only negative effects of livestock, but also the positives.

For example, using manure to fertilize the land increases water holding capacities creating less erosion and eliminating phosphorous run-off caused by commercial fertilizers, he said.


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