Senator readying for state legislative session next week

Sen. Jeremy Miller
Chad Smith
Bluff Country Newspaper Group

As the Minnesota State Legislature convenes for its 2020 session on Tuesday, Feb. 11, District 28 state Sen. Jeremy Miller (R-Winona) hopes the upcoming session is as productive as the last one in 2019.

Miller, who was first elected in 2010, took over as president of the Minnesota Senate in 2019. His district covers all of Fillmore and Houston counties and the southern part of Winona County.

“First and foremost, we worked together on bipartisan solutions that were good for the state’s people,” Miller recalled. “That meant working together to pass a bipartisan two-year, biannual budget of about $48.5 billion. We included full funding for education needs.

“We also took steps to help lower the cost of all prescription drugs. We were also able to provide tax relief to middle-income Minnesotans, as well as senior citizens, farmers, and small businesses. Senate Republicans also helped take steps to address the opioid crisis affecting communities across the state.”

Miller said other highlights of the 2019 session were funding increases for local government aid (LGA), as well as a greater investment in improving rural broadband access. Looking ahead to this year, Miller said his goal is to help legislators build on the successes of 2019, including in healthcare.

“We want to continue to drive down the cost of prescription drugs, as well as improve transparency in prescription drug prices and healthcare procedures,” he said. “I think people should know what the actual costs of their prescriptions are, as well as the medical procedures they need to have.”

Miller said that while legislators got a start on middle-income tax relief last year, they are by no means done with that subject, an important one to  individuals, senior citizens, farmers, and small businesses. They’ll also be trying to improve workforce development across the state.

Improving access to childcare across the state, especially in Greater Minnesota, is another major goal of this session.

“We’ve been taking some bipartisan steps to begin to address the shortage and we’ll continue to do so during this session,” Miller said.

One thing important to the senator is funding secured last year to support the state’s veteran population, including money for three new veterans homes in the state, including one in Preston.

“I’ve been working closely with local, state, and federal officials on the veterans home in Preston,” he said. “The federal government should be releasing its priority list in the coming weeks, which we hope includes Preston.”

Appearing on the priority list means Preston is “one step closer” to having a veterans home in Fillmore County, he noted.

They’re also working on an initiative called the “Clean Energy First” proposal, which will help Minnesota accomplish the transition to clean energy through careful resource planning and coordination.

“We want to take a look at the future of our state’s energy needs in a way that prioritizes efficiency and carbon-free energy,” he said, “instead of relying on mandates that only drive up costs to consumers. What we want is cleaner, more reliable energy in a way that’s cost-effective.”

Miller said they aren’t looking to get rid of fossil fuels entirely. Instead, as the proposal rolls out this year, he’s looking for a balance between traditional energy sources and cleaner energy.

Clean water is a must for everyone, so Miller and his colleagues will be working on a clean water initiative as well.

“It’s also a bonding year,” Miller added. “We’ve been very successful in securing transportation funding throughout the entire state, including southeast Minnesota. Over the last few years, we’ve seen several road and bridge construction projects in our region. We’ll continue to work toward more funding because it’s a bonding year.

“The focus of the bonding year includes core infrastructure projects like roads and bridges, as well as water and sewer infrastructure,” he added. “Those are all important things I’ll be working on for southeast Minnesota.”

The Lanesboro dam project is something he’ll be working on as well. “As I understand it right now, the planning and design work on the project is complete,” Miller said. “We funded that project a couple of years ago and it’s nice to see it coming to fruition.

“There’s a lot of exciting things we’ll be working on for Senate District 28,” he said.