Local legislators reflect on session

MARSHALL – District 16 Sen. Gary Dahms, R-Redwood Falls, and District 16A Rep. Chris Swedzinski, R-Ghent, met with constituents at the Marshall Area YMCA Wednesday evening to discuss the recent bonding session.

Community leaders thanked Dahms and Swedzinski for their hard work on getting the amateur sports center into the bonding bill, while the congressmen turned the table and thanked the community for their support of the measure.

Constituents were asked to offer any questions or comments they had. Most centered on the topic of rural disparity, such as the spending differences on students in metro schools compared to students in rural schools.

“When the leadership of the DFL is from the metro, do they understand how we do business?” Swedzinski asked.

Dahms said that citizens “need to call and support measures and start making noise. Rural constituents need to keep putting on the pressure.”

Dahms and Swedzinski both expressed disappointment in not getting the MERIT Center or the Dawson EDA project into the bonding bill, but they said they will keep moving forward on the issues.

“Bonding takes time, but it is a consistent thing,” Dahms said. “Pretty soon your project will become well known, and then you can get it in (the bill).”

When asked what he was most proud of this session, Swedzinski mentioned his efforts to help with the new children’s wing of the Marshall Library.

“My provision for the Marshall Library that went though, even though is was a small amount of money, was probably the most rewarding project because of the work that it involved. It was a fun win for the city,”?he said.

The tax break Swedzinski put through eliminated sales tax from building materials for the new children’s wing of the library. He said he based his bill on how the Carnegies built 1,700 libraries across the country.

“When Andrew Carnegie built those libraries, he didn’t have to pay sales take on any of the building materials,” Swedzinski said. “If there is a public-good building being built and we have someone willing to donate that, they won’t have to pay sales tax on those materials.”

“Gary and I worked on ag issues like the PEEV hog disease issue that is killing millions of baby pigs,” Swedzinski said. “We worked together on getting amendments onto the supplemental spending bill, which put money into researching it. Hog operations are a big part of our rural economy.”

Dahms said he spent a lot of time monitoring and trying to improve bills that came across his desk and that he enjoyed “being able to do some amendments on the bills that were coming through the jobs and ag committees to make the bills less harsh or more compatible to business and agriculture.”

“This was a year where you had to play defense,” Dahms said. “Where you had to take the bills and look at them, see what the outcome was going to be and then try to make it into a better outcome. That’s what we spent a lot of time doing this year.”

Looking forward to the election season, Swedzinski said he isn’t ready to jump into campaigning again quite yet because he still has a lot of work to do.

“We’re busy getting the crop in the field and getting caught up with my welding business,” Swedzinski said, “but we’ll get to it.”