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Alexandria Chamber sets legislative policy

Don't cut local government aid. Lift the ban on nuclear plants. Maintain educational funding. Don't force businesses to provide sick leave. Those are just a few of the policy positions recommended by the Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce'...

Don't cut local government aid. Lift the ban on nuclear plants. Maintain educational funding. Don't force businesses to provide sick leave.

Those are just a few of the policy positions recommended by the Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce's legislative committee and adopted by the Chamber board of directors on Tuesday.

The recommendations were sent to local state legislators to consider during the 2009 legislative session.

Here's a summary of the Chamber's priorities and its take on pressing legislative issues:

Local Government Aid

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Local Government Aid (LGA) tax relief is an important component of our rural economy. It allows Alexandria and other area communities to provide needed services by way of tax relief directed back to the communities from the state's general fund.

It is a means to provide fairness in property taxation across the state, while helping cities sustain critical city services.

The governor has a proposal that will disproportionately cut to the LGA. Alexandria alone will suffer reductions of 18 percent in 2009 ($315,125) and 38 percent in 2010 ($658,036).

This LGA reduction is destabilizing for our community and for others who depend on this important tax relief program to help fund essential services like police, firefighters, airports and snow removal.

Cities have already set their levy amounts for 2009 and are unable to recover the costs of these cuts. We have already sustained a 4 percent reduction in this funding through unallotment, compounding the impact of this proposed 2009 cut.

We oppose any cuts to LGA for 2009. We also oppose cuts 2010 LGA unless they are proportional and fair.

Land use reform

Land use planning will reduce the overall cost in government by leveraging efficiencies in transportation, sewer and water infrastructure, and delivery of other governmental services.

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It will also help prevent water pollution and curb the loss and fragmentation of agricultural land and open space.

It may also help reduce carbon emissions from the transportation sector, helping the state achieve its greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals.

We support House (H.F. 1035 - Hosch) and Senate (S.F. 913 - Bakk) to improve and enhance the state's land use policies.

Energy policy

Energy policies directly impact the cost of doing business in Minnesota. Rural electric, municipal, and private providers are all impacted by federal and state regulations.

These state regulations complicate the ability for energy production planning and frustrate the ability to continue to provide cost efficient power sources to our residents.

Nuclear plants

To meet the growing demand for electrical energy in Minnesota, while minimizing adverse environmental impacts, we encourage the legislature to lift the state ban on nuclear plant construction.

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We support House (H.F. 1091) and Senate (S.F. 1078) to remove the prohibition against the construction of nuclear power plants.

Climate change

legislation

State or regional efforts to impose climate change legislation, such as a cap and trade initiative or CO2 tax will increase power costs to consumers. Any such initiatives should be adopted on the federal level.

We oppose state climate change legislation.

Renewable energy

standards

Minnesota's Renewable Energy Standard requiring utilities to obtain 25 percent of their resources from renewable energy sources by 2025 should be given a chance to succeed. It may be attainable.

We oppose C-BED carve-outs or Feed-In tariffs that will unreasonably increase utility costs.

Minnesota Care

Tightening eligibility requirements for Minnesota Care will result in 84,000 Minnesotans losing their coverage. It will increase uncompensated care by $460 million.

This expense will result in an increased expense burden to counties and providers. It will force increased local taxes.

We oppose tightening Minnesota Care eligibility standards.

Minnesota's Health Care Access Fund is a resource to keep Minnesotans healthy and insured. It is not collected to finance the general fund or for any other purpose.

We oppose any effort to pirate the Minnesota Health Care Fund.

Pre-school,

K-12 education

Maintaining a predictable and sustainable funding stream is of key importance for educators.

It allows for orderly and responsible planning and provision of education for children. Without this certainty of funding, administrators are unable to plan and produce effective programs to accomplish their mission of educating their students.

We urge the legislature to maintain a sustainable funding stream for pre/K-12 education.

Sick leave

Responsible businesses provide employment packages that comply with state and federal guidelines. Forcing arbitrary changes or coverage requirements are burdensome and unnecessary and will increase the cost of doing business in our state.

There is no demonstrated need for mandating sick leave standards. Most employers in our community already have some type of "leave" package.

Employers, in consultation with their employees, should be able to tailor benefits/leave packages to satisfy the distinctive needs of individual workplaces.

We oppose Paid Sick Leave (H.F. 612 - Lesch) and (S.F. 461 - Anderson).

Related Topics: ALEXANDRIAPOLICY
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