Every year Hutchinson City Council makes clear its legislative priorities in order to assist local representatives in advocating for the needs of the city, local businesses and residents.
A list of priorities unanimously approved this past week includes four new items and three changes to priorities from prior years. One priority was also removed from the list.
HATS facility: Hutchinson supports funding to improve the Hutchinson Area Transportation Services facility, which is used by the city as well as McLeod County and the state. Such improvements would include adequate vehicle and equipment mechanic bays that would use existing facilities and add additional tempered vehicle and equipment storage. Others would include upgraded fueling facilities, an outdoor wash station, a bulk water station and wastewater collection.
COVID-19: Hutchinson supports funding efforts for programs to support workers and businesses impacted by the pandemic. Any mitigation efforts should be done without doing unnecessary damage to local economies.
Forfeiture preservation: Hutchinson supports legislation that preserves the ability for city police departments to utilize the federal forfeiture sharing program, which also maintains a reasonable cash threshold that protects communities from ongoing drug trafficking and keeps habitual drunk drivers off roads. The forfeiture process allows the seizure of items believed to have been used as part of a crime.
Permit to purchase fees: The city supports legislation that would allow local police to charge a reasonable fee for processing permit to purchase applications.
Local government aid: Hutchinson supports restoring the annual inflation and population growth adjustments for local government aid from the state and believes any changes to the formula should be agreed upon by all city organizations. The city also opposes artificial limits to individual groups of cities that are not based on a formula. A new addition to the city's priorities states that Hutchinson opposes any measure to reduce LGA levels for the next biennium.
Lake and river basin improvements: City Council previously supported legislation that provides funding to improve the water quality, habitat and recreation opportunities of Hutchinson lakes and river basins within and surrounding the community. This year, the city maintained that support. An addition to the item states, "While the city of Hutchinson appreciates bonding efforts to support our lakes and river basin improvement project, it's important to reiterate that this is a phased project with additional future bonding needs." Lawmakers this past year approved $3.1 million for upgrades to Otter Lake and Campbell Lake.
Controlling alcohol sales: The city opposes legislation that would make it easier to sell strong beer, spirits and wine in grocery and convenience stores. It supports existing regulations in order to minimize risks associated with youth access to alcohol. The city believes such limits improve public health and limit motor vehicle crashes among youth. City Council additionally noted last week that expanding the sale of alcohol products would limit income to the city from its own liquor store, which helps to offset expenses.
Smoking: The city previously supported changes to state laws that would raise the age to purchase tobacco and vaping products to 21 in order to reduce confusion after the federal government raised the age to 21. Minnesota has since changed the purchasing age to 21, and so the item was removed from the priority list.
Local control: City Council opposes legislation that would weaken local control and local decision making.
Deputy registrars: Following conversion to the MNLARS program in 2017, the state shifted additional clerical and auditing duties to the deputy registrar network, which includes Hutchinson. The change included no funding despite the state collecting fees and taxes through the network. City Council supports legislation to provide deputy registrars with proper compensation.
Airport: The city supports legislation that clearly indicates maintenance and operation of an airport is an essential public service. It also supports updates to airport zoning that allows more flexibility and an improved ability for municipalities to make improvements.
Transportation: The city supports improvements to U.S. Highway 212, State Highway 15 and State Highway 7 that would make the roads safer. It also supports a comprehensive transportation plan that would include long-term funding. The city supports a 50-50 split on Corridors of Commerce funding between the metro and rural area of the state, and rejects a scoring system that allows more points for corridors that run through the metro area.
Economic development: Hutchinson supports increased funding for programs that assist with local economic development. It also supports legislation that would improve the state's skilled workforce development.
Parks and recreation: The city supports legislation that would provide funding to extend the Dakota Rail Regional Trail from eastern McLeod County to Hutchinson. It also supports the current formula that allocates 20% of Parks and Trails Legacy Funding to rural Minnesota.
Water quality: The city believes water quality regulations, permits and other restrictions should be grounded in solid peer reviewed science and must be established in a manner that respects due process for cities and others.
Labeling: City Council supports legislation that would require manufacturers of flushable wipes and other consumer products to include informational labels when the product could cause environmental harm or damage wastewater infrastructure.
Wastewater plants: Legislation providing certainty is supported by the city. It wants cities currently paying off debt on previously required wastewater plant construction to have the same assurance as was provided for new and future construction.