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Letter: Include Lewis and Clark project in bonding plan

By District 22B Rep. Rod Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake

One of the final pieces needed to complete the 2014 legislative session puzzle is the approval of a capital investment proposal, or bonding bill. This legislation allows Minnesota to borrow money in order to fund statewide construction projects.

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State Representative Joe Schomacker (R-Luverne) and I have been working hard to ensure that funding for the Lewis and Clark Rural Water System is included.

Governor Dayton supports it and the House chairwoman of the capital investment committee supports it, but we’ve yet to hear where Senate leadership is at on this needed project. To my knowledge, this is the only project in the House bonding bill that has a letter from the federal government saying they will reimburse Minnesota for this expense. It should be a no-brainer.

Lewis and Clark would provide a safe and reliable water resource to southwestern Minnesota. The reason our state has not seen a drop so far is because the federal government failed to follow through on its promise to fund 80 percent of the cost.

As it stands today, there is $20 million in the House bonding bill that would be used to complete the pipeline connection to Luverne. A total of $69 million would complete the entire project in southwestern Minnesota.

The fact of the matter is the state is trying to pick up the ball that Washington dropped. We need to continue working with our federal delegation so they can help us access clean water and finish the job. In the meantime, we will keep our discussions with the governor and legislative leadership ongoing so they will prioritize the Lewis and Clark proposal.