Representative hopes to see strong bonding bill come out of 2020 session

DAVID PHILLIPS/BLUFF COUNTRY NEWSPAPER GROUP State Rep. Greg Davids talks about the upcoming legislative session when he was a guest speaker in Spring Valley.
Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy
Bluff Country Newspaper Group

State Rep. Greg Davids (R-Preston) outlined his priorities in the upcoming legislative session, which starts Feb. 11, when he was guest speaker at a Spring Valley Kiwanis Club Jan. 29 meeting. 

Davids, whose 28B District covers Fillmore and Houston counties, opened with quips about how his 2020 suit waistline is going to be sporting only one pocket if he has his pants taken in, a few Sven and Ole jokes and a note to his audience that the upcoming session will focus on bonding, meaning that there will be changes coming to numerous places around Minnesota. 

Davids, who is House Tax Committee chairman, noted that the 2017 tax bill has the state anticipating an approximate $1.3 billion surplus and that reserve funds are full enough.  The numbers apparently lined up to draw in over $155 million in additional revenue that contributed to the state’s anticipated surplus, and with the prospect of a recession, that surplus may come in handy. 

He acknowledged that Minnesota has higher taxes than most states and that federal tax deductions that have typically been available to taxpayers have been taken away. 

He also elaborated on the proposed bonding bills being brought before the Legislature this year, estimating that $5.5 billion in project proposals will be presented to the three branches of government.  Locally, projects that have already received funding include the Lanesboro dam and the Harmony bike trail.  Davids related that other projects that the bonding committee has toured include the Chatfield Center for the Arts (CCA) in Chatfield, as that facility seeks to overhaul its 1916 school building to serve Potter Auditorium. 

Davids outlined that while he may not agree with some of the issues that the House is currently considering reviewing – such as a push to legalize marijuana beyond medicinal use, as Colorado has done – he plans to approach the impending session with an effort to “come out with a strong bonding bill.” 

Davids took questions from the Kiwanians, beginning with one regarding where the push to legalize marijuana is coming from, and he replied that it seemed to be one that originated across the party aisle. 

He was also asked to explain about how much the state is contributing to the construction of the veterans home that will be built in Preston.  In 2018, the Minnesota Legislature allocated $10.2 million toward the cost of the project, but he would like to see the home have amenities returned to its plans following the architect underestimating the actual cost of constructing such a facility.  That would mean additional state money. Federal funds are paying 65 percent of the cost of the project with the rest coming from the state and funds raised by the community.

Davids added that while the home is slated to be built in the next several years, there may be delays in its construction that will raise construction costs, but that he looks forward to seeing the home being built in Preston near the state veterans cemetery. 

As the Kiwanis have a short lunch hour meeting, Davids’ time at the lectern was slightly shorter, and he thanked the members for their time.