Steve Giorgi
Executive Director
Phone: 218-780-8877
Email: SGiorgi@ramsmn.org

RAMS hearing 1940

Kawishiwi Falls - Ely MN photo by Adrian Koski 2016

Cuyuna

Moon over Queen City photo created by Matt Herberg

RAMS delegation with Senator Klobuchar

2016 Press conference on US Forest Service - Virginia, MN

DC delegation on land withdrawal 2017

Mayor Rick Cannata Wild RIce/Sulfate rally

New bridge at night photo by P Pluswick

Hwy 53 bridge Nov 2016 photo by F Luomanen

Pike Bay Marina Lake Vermilion

Tom Rukavina at rally prior to MPCA hearing at MCC

Range Officials with Congressman Stauber

Itasca Ski Hill

Session 2020


DAILY SESSION UPDATES

Click Here for Daily Updates

RAMS 2020 LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES:
1. Additional funding for the Border to Border Broadband Grant Program.  $30 million is being requested and legislation has been introduced by Rep. Rob Ecklund (HF 3029) and Sen Rich Draheim introduced a similar bill in the Senate (SF 3049).  RAMS will work with the MN Rural Broadband Coalition and other advocates to push for passage of the bill this session.  Governor Walz and the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband, of which I am a member have both recommended the additional $30 million in funding.

2.  The superintendents in our Iron Range region are supporting legislation that would provide for the allow for greater Minnesota school district members of cooperatives the authority to levy up to $65 per pupil for cooperative facilities, the same as members of Metro Intermediates.  This would allow districts to form joint power boards to bond for improvements and new facilities.

3.  BONDING – Since this is a bonding session, RAMS will be supporting any and all local bonding projects.  If your community has a bonding project on the list  reach out to me and I will have our lobbyist Gary Cerkvenik watch over the bonding bill and if your project is up for a hearing give you notice in the event you have to testify for the project.

4.  We will play DEFENSE and monitor bill’s as they are introduced to make sure there are no attempts to take away funding from our Range communities or school districts, protect our Taconite Tax funding and make certain we can continue to grow the region doing what we have for over a century, mine our natural resources..

RAMS –  2019 LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES:

  1. Broadband expansion across the Taconite Assistance Area –(long term goal).  RAMS is a member of MN Rural Broadband Coalition (Director Giorgi serves on the Executive Board) this year and that group will provide more visibility, focus and advocacy for broadband funding.  Support funding of the Office of Broadband. Fund the Border to Border Broadband Fund ($70 million recommendation)  Fix the Border to Border Broadband Fund – certain policy impede the advancement of broadband expansion and a new standard for broadband networks should be included at 100 Mb/20 Mb when installed.
  2. Protect and preserve Local Government Aide payments while working with Governor Walz to return the LGA formula to the 1993 levels.
  3. Amend the Municipal Tax Aide formula in the Taconite Tax Formula to provide for an increase to our municipalites, something that has not occurred since 1983.  By dedicating the price inflation index or escalator clause to the Municipal Aide formula, communities would be assured of a slight adjustment each year in the fund dependent of course on total taconite tonnage.
  4. Request that the MN DOT plan include completion of Highway 169 to complete 4 lanes of traffic from highway 65 to the Scenic highway.  This project was started in the mid “60’s and is still unfinished.  It currently is not in the 10 year DOT plan for our region and that needs to be addressed.
  5. Address the future operation of the Hill Annex Mine (State Park). The DNR should continue to operate the park as it has significant historic value not only in the region but for the state.
  6. Address the need for additional funding for rural mental health care that includes addressing the severe shortage of juvenile mental health care beds and facilities.  RAMS supports legislative funding that would provide for a new youth mental health crisis center to be located in the former Buhl High School.
  7. Support funding for the routing and pumping of rising pit water levels in the Canisteo Mine Pit chain as well as the St. James pit in Aurora. $4.5 million has been estimated to assure these pit water levels will be contained and controlled to assure communities are safe and have a reliable potable water supply.
  8. Support an annual increase in the education formula as well as support for Senator Bakk’s legislation to provide funding to the Iron Range School collaboration that will provide summer school opportunities for vocational curriculum programs.  Funding for aging school buildings is also on the list.
  9. Support legislation that will provide funding to communities who will be faced with a new Presidential primary and restrict the dissemination of party declarations information.
  10. RAMS will pursue funding for a fiber optic connector loop that runs through Carlton, Aitkin and Pine Counties that will enhance the NESC middle mile fiber and provide reduced broadband rates, assure redundancy for the entire network, improve and increase many times over the gigabit services available across the network.  For $3.5 million dollar investment, this would benefit 7 counties.

 

Message From Director

September was a month full of activities with kids returning to school, Senate and House bonding tours and RAMS back to work with a board meeting in Hibbing.

Prior to the meeting, members of the Board of Directors took a tour of the Windows to the World new mine view overlooking the Hull Rust mine pit. This is an amazing site that all Rangers have to put on a “to do” list when visitors come to town.

At the board meeting Representative Julie Sandstede, District 6A gave a report that included highlights from the 2019 session and included insights into the 2020 bonding session. So far $5.3 BILLION dollars in projects have been requested!

Rep Sandstede’s report was appreciated by the board and was comprehensive and informative. Thanks Julie for all you do for the Range.

 

 

In other board business, the annual audit report was reviewed and approved with no financial concern noted by our auditor. A new conflict of interest policy and code of conduct policy were recommended and the board will adopt at the next meeting. The board also heard updates on PolyMet, Twin Metals, HibTac and Mesabi Metallics…good news is hard to find but we continue to support projects that meet all permitting requirements and will provide great economic boosts to our region.

The board also agreed to hold the RAMS annual meeting on December 19th, 2019. This is earlier than in the past so much work must be done in the next two months to prepare.

RAMS hosted a Range Mayors meeting in September and the mayors heard a presentation from Dean DeBeltz from Twin Metals.

Twin Metals signed a PLA (project labor agreement) with the MN Trades and Labor Council and is close to submitting a mine plan of operation to the US Forest Service. The mayors were thankful for the presentation and many good questions were answered by Dean.

October started with a bang as RAMS hosted a meeting with 8th District Congressman Pete Stauber. The meeting included RAMS board members and Iron Range Mayors from over a dozen communities.

Congressman Stauber continues to fight for the “Range way of life” in DC and was proud to testify in a committee about how we mine safely, efficiently and without environmental catastrophes. The Congressman is part of the “Problem Solver Caucus” that is made up by 48 bi-partisan representatives and was instrumental in developing a solution to end the government shutdown. Thanks so much for your time and efforts on behalf of the 8th District, Congressman Stauber.

Don’t forget to check out the latest on the RAMS website(s)
www. ramsmn.org ; and now our new site on broadband:
https://broadband.ramsmn.org/



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