Question for MN01 Special Election candidates : $82 million or Zero ?

“We will build gleaming new roads, bridges, highways, railways, and waterways all across our land. And we will do it with American heart, and American hands, and American grit” — President Donald J. Trump February 18 2018

Trump had his dreams but never delivered … and when President Joe Biden offered his infrastructure plan, First District Congressman Jim Hagedorn bemoaned “Here comes the Democrats’ Trojan Horse ‘infrastructure’ package. Our country can’t afford this”. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R. 3684) was passed in bipartisan vote.

Congressman Hagedorn was effective at hyping his efforts for projects in the First District … from Highway 14 (which turned out to be a fifty year project) and his efforts to “encourage robust investment in the Airport Improvement Program” … but then downplaying his NO vote when it came to funding votes on projects that encompass all States.

Most disappointing was when this Congress allowed Members to submit “Community Project Funding” requests and Congressman Hagedorn did not have any … but Minnesota’s Sixth District Congressman Tom Emmer did … as did Eighth District Congressman Pete Stauber who was able to secure $3.5 million funding for a wastewater treatment plant in Two Harbors.

The key here is that the pie does not get any bigger but Congress writes into the appropriations funding that certain projects must be funded … instead of allowing a “bureaucrat” in the Executive Branch to decide where to spend the money. Congressman Hagedorn’s refusal to identify any projects simply allows our taxdollars to be invested in other congressional districts resulting in jobs for those communities as well as improvements in their infrastructure.

Minnesota First District voters need to know if Congressman Hagedorn’s replacement will reject submitting “Community Project Funding” requests.

Also, what does the candidate feel is the role of the Federal Government in funding infrastructure projects … should it be for only “interstate” projects and only on projects that the federal government is already responsible.

And the question is timely as on April 19th, Minnesotans are invited to participate in a discussion on the future of the Rapidan Dam. The dam was built over 110 years ago and flooding has caused significant damage to it.

As of 2018 National Inventory of Dams report, there were 91,468 dams in America with 50,135 being over 50 years old … so Rapidan is not the only community that may want funding. The key here is that the federal government only owns roughly 3% of the 91,468 dams … so they do not have a financial responsibility for the vast majority of them. That does not mean that Congress does not award monies for them … in fact, during the current Congress, several bills would create new authorities related to dam removal or would provide emergency and/or mandatory appropriations for dam removal activities — i.e. Congressman Hagedorn did not sponsor the bipartisan H.R.4375 – Twenty-First Century Dams Act or H.R.4499 – Maintaining and Enhancing Hydroelectricity and River Restoration Act of 2021.

Regarding the Rapidan Dam, the current thought is that there are three option : Repairing the dam at an estimated cost of $15 million; Removing the dam at at cost of $82 million; and Doing nothing. If you are a resident of Blue Earth County (or the State of Minnesota), it sure would be nice to know whether and Federal money might be available before making a decision … thus this is an issue that the next elected Representative will have to confront … and voters need to know their views.

The Rapidan Dam is just one of the many projects that should be on the next Representative’s “To Do List” (or “Don’t Do List” if the Representative does not believe that the federal government should be funding these projects.) For example, do the dams in Winona and Houston Counties need to be upgraded with federal dollars because they transport grain and other goods on the Mississippi River while the Rapidan Dam is not a “transportation” waterway ?

Candidates should explain how they will meet with citizen groups, county and state organizations to get their input.

Heck, why not come to the Rapidan Townhall and meet the voters … after all, voting in the MNGOP and DFL primaries are underway and many constituents will be voting through the mail-in precincts process.