Letter: NextGen change would bring regional boostIs Minnesota’s next best energy source being developed right here in southwestern Minnesota?
By: District 22A Rep. Joe Schomacker, R-Luverne, Worthington Daily Globe
Is Minnesota’s next best energy source being developed right here in southwestern Minnesota?
This could actually be the case, as I recently supported a measure in the Minnesota House Agriculture and Rural Development Policy and Finance Committee that would add biobutanol to the list of energy sources covered by the NextGen Act.
This is wonderful news for the Gevo facility breaking ground later this month in Luverne. This plant, which had produced ethanol, will soon produce biobutanol, and is the first of its kind in the world.
The purpose of the NextGen Act is to research and develop energy sources to achieve energy independence and maintain rural economic vitality. While new fuels and chemicals are in development, biobutanol is ready now, which is why it’s important to have the product covered under the NextGen Act.
Currently the Luverne facility continues to produce ethanol, but it will be converted to biobutanol by mid-2012. Not only will this facility be a tremendous asset to southwestern Minnesota, but it is positioned to make an impact around the world.
The biobutanol NextGen Act provision is contained in a comprehensive agriculture proposal that will likely be debated on the House floor before session ends.
Voter ID Bill approved in House: The Minnesota House has approved legislation that many of you strongly support, an initiative requiring photo identification prior to voting. Nearly every Minnesotan is already carrying the needed identification in their wallet or purse in the form of a drivers license or state ID. For those who may need an ID, a measure within the bill provides that voter with free photo identification.
There’s no doubt that photo identification would strengthen the integrity of our election system, and it’s my hope that Gov. Mark Dayton will allow this bill to become law.
Healthy Minnesota program passes House: Legislation to create a private sector option for publicly-insured MinnesotaCare and Medicaid recipients has also been approved by House lawmakers. The Healthy Minnesota Program, which I co-authored, will provide subsidies on a sliding scale basis to individuals currently enrolled in public health programs. The initiative is projected to save $30 million in the coming budget biennium.
The bill promotes cost savings for the state while offering providers better rates than currently paid by public programs. The Healthy Minnesota project promotes efficiency in care delivery and prevention and wellness for patients through innovative methods including community clinics and health care homes.
This is a true reform bill that will help public program recipients transition to private health insurance, offer protection for those denied coverage, and promote innovative care models to best serve the needs of our people. I’m proud to have helped craft the legislation, and pleased the Minnesota House supported it.
Still time to fill out the legislative survey: For those of you who haven’t filled out my legislative survey online yet, there’s still time! I will be tallying responses early next week and will publish them in my next update. Please visit my website at www.house.mn/22A and click on 2011 Legislative Survey.