Legislators representing Douglas County see 'very good' and 'very bad' in 2023 session

Bonding bill brings good news for Alexandria College, solid waste management, chain of lakes.

ST. PAUL — The just-completed legislative session in Minnesota drew mostly negative reactions from the four Republican lawmakers who represent parts of Douglas County.

But they listed some positive accomplishments as well.

Nursing home help

In her legislative update sent Tuesday, May 23, Rep. Mary Franson, R-Alexandria, said there were “very good” things that came out of the session.

“After fighting tooth and nail all session long, Republicans delivered $300 million to save our nursing homes. Despite a $17.5 billion surplus, Democrats were originally more willing to spend $500 million for an office building for 134 politicians than to spend $300 million to support 27,000 seniors living in nursing homes,” Franson said.

Rep. Mary Franson

Fifteen nursing homes have closed since 2021 in Minnesota, she said. “The long-term care industry in Minnesota is currently operating with a worker shortage, and almost a quarter of nursing home caregiver jobs are vacant. In the past six months, 10% of nursing home facilities have exhausted their reserves, and another 40% are burning through them now.”


Franson said no senior should be forced to leave their community to receive the care they need and she said she’s "proud that Republicans were able to deliver this critical funding for nursing homes."

A robust bonding bill

Another positive reaction from Franson is that the last day of the session ended with the passage of a bonding bill that will provide funding for important infrastructure projects for her district and communities across Minnesota.

Sen. Torrey Westrom, R-Alexandria, was also pleased with the bonding bill. He said a bipartisan agreement led to a “robust bill” that delivers $300 million in much-needed funding to the state’s struggling nursing homes.

Franson and Westrom listed the following local projects that will receive funds:

  • Pope Douglas Solid Waste Management – the full $12.833 million it requested for the next phase of its expansion. The project will make trash and recycling improvements by retrofitting and expanding the existing waste diversion and recycling processing facility.  Westrom said the funding will keep local property taxes down as residents won’t have to pay for the entire regional project.
  • A box culvert project under Highway 29 in Douglas County. The bonding bill provides $2 million to install a new box culvert between Lake Le Homme Dieu and Lake Geneva. Working with the City of Alexandria and members of the lake associations, this project will enlarge the waterway to allow for better water flow control and facilitate boat traffic on the Alexandria Chain of Lakes.
  • Alexandria Technical and Community College will receive $955,000 to help fund the remodeling, deconstructing and planning of new campus additions, including its transportation center. “This nearly $1 million will ensure that the college remains a top-tier institution for our community and state,” Westrom said.

Westrom added that the Central Square Cultural and Civic Center community building in Glenwood was also funded at $4 million that will be used for remodeling and roofing improvements.

Torrey Westrom
Torrey Westrom

Westrom said the bonding bill is fair to rural Minnesota.

“For months, the Democrat-controlled House and Senate were engaging in hyper-partisanship and mainly only funding legislative projects in Democrat districts,” Westrom said. “This was outrageous conduct that didn’t change until the last weekend of session. I am pleased we could finally accomplish a more balanced approach, including crucial last-minute funding to save an estimated 40 nursing homes from closure. This will ensure that our loved ones continue to receive the high-quality care they deserve.”

Sen. Jordan Rasmusson, R-Fergus Fall, was also glad the nursing homes will receive $300 million. “This plan will give them a lifeline to stay open and continue to provide this invaluable care for our loved ones,” he said.


Jordan Rasmusson

Westrom said the bonding bill prioritized more infrastructure projects like updating city drinking and wastewater systems along with many roads and bridges.

“Though we pushed for the full elimination of the tax on Social Security income, we did get relief for our seniors under $100,000 of taxable income,” Westrom said.

‘Very, very bad’ outcomes

Franson also said the session yielded some “very, very, bad” outcomes as well.

“It’s important to remember that Democrats only represent around 52% of Minnesotans,” Franson said. “Despite their narrow majority, Democrats misinterpreted their electoral victories as a progressive mandate to push their extreme, far-left agenda.”

The Legislature began the session with a $17.5 billion surplus. But, Franson said, instead of returning that surplus to taxpayers in the form of permanent, meaningful tax relief, Democrats increased the state budget by 40% and raised taxes by $9.5 billion to pay for it.

“Minnesotans expect their tax dollars to be respected,” she said. “But Democrats went on a spending spree this session, spending your surplus to grow bureaucracy and enact new mandates that will make it more expensive to live and work in our state.”

Westrom and Rasmusson shared similar views.

“Senate Republicans fought hard to give the $19 billion surplus back to taxpayers, but in the end, Democrats were unwilling to provide any meaningful relief to hardworking Minnesotans,” Westrom and Rasmusson said in a joint statement. “With a historic surplus, it’s shocking that Democrats still increased taxes by nearly $9 billion this session.”


Legislators representing Douglas County

Douglas County is represented by four state legislators:

Sen. Torrey Westrom, R-Alexandria, District 12

Rep. Mary Franson, R-Alexandria, District 12B

Sen. Jordan Rasmusson, R-Fergus Falls, District 9

Rep. Tom Murphy, R-Underwood, District 9B

Tom Murphy

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