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Otter Tail County sets legislative recommendations

Doug Huebsch. Courtesy photo.

County commissioners and division (department) directors met on Oct. 24 to develop recommendations for Minnesota state legislators. The upcoming state legislative session that will take place during 2018 in St. Paul.

Otter Tail County is a member of the Minnesota Inter-County Association (MICA) which has provided a list of issues for member counties to weigh in on.

"We are among 14 counties as part of MICA that comprise a major portion of Minnesota's population and economy," said County Board Chairman Doug Huebsch of Perham.

Otter Tail County commissioners are in communication throughout the year with State Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen and State Reps. Bud Nornes and Mary Franson who represent Otter Tail County in the Minnesota State Legislature.

"As a member of MICA, it's our objective here in Otter Tail County to help influence regional and state programs that are for the well-being of our county residents," said Huebsch. "We also strive to help facilitate cooperation among counties in areas of mutual interest."

Huebsch and the other county commissioners (Wayne Johnson of Pelican Rapids, Roger Froemming of Parkers Prairie, John Lindquist of Dalton and Lee Rogness of Fergus Falls) also work to increase public understanding of county government.

"We can voice our recommendations through our membership in MICA," said Huebsch, "and also through the Association of Minnesota Counties that includes all 87 counties in Minnesota."

Divisions in Otter Tail County government include Community Services, Financial Services, Internal Services, Land Services, Public Works and County Attorney's Office.

Otter Tail County commissioners and division (department) directors recommend the following legislative priorities for lawmakers in 2018:

• Transportation finding from the state legislature that includes new revenue for roads and bridges.

• Funding for broadband (internet) border-to-border development through a grant program.

• Pilot programs and other efforts to manage mental health issues before people come into the criminal justice system.

• Address the mental health crisis in county jails and juvenile facilities.

• Streamline demolition and land disposal facility permits.

• Maintain the Minnesota state legislative county aid program based on need aid and tax-base equalization aid formulas.