DULUTH - The 2012 legislative session was largely consumed by the
drama that was the Minnesota Vikings stadium bill, but not much else.
"The word used down at the capitol is a do nothing
session and it's hard to say that's not really the description," said Sen.
Roger Reinert, (D) Duluth.
One of Reinert’s biggest priorities this session revolved around
the senate bonding bill. Duluth was seeking state funding for a multi–million
dollar DTA transit center downtown, but was not included in the final bill, which
was disheartening considering the project has the backing of federal and
there are private dollars involved and not a lot of projects have that and number
two we had this leveraged federal dollars that go away if we don't match them
this year," said Reinert.
The city also looking for funding to renovate historic Wade
Stadium, but that too was left off. Duluth Mayor Don Ness says not all was lost
in the session as legislation was passed to harshen the penalty of selling
synthetic drugs from a misdemeanor to a felony.
"That will shut down the synthetic drug trade in the
state of Minnesota and obviously we've been the epicenter of this issue with
the “Last Place on Earth” and the problems that we're seeing in old downtown,"
Reinert said, "Law enforcement has said this is what we
need. County prosecutors have said this is what we need. Those are the two
groups that have said this is not enough."
The city still has hope for some of these projects through a
50-plus million dollar pot created by DEED which will be awarded on a
Ness said, "The city of Duluth will be in a position to
bring forward a project and hopefully assist us in starting a project yet this
Sen. Reinert said he plans to write a letter to Gov. Dayton Monday,
suggesting ways to find money and get these projects done. All 201 state
legislative seats are up for grabs this fall for elections.