Despite the Minnesota Legislature not being able to pass a bonding or tax bill during the 2022 legislative session, Gov. Tim Walz had a busy week with the signing of the Agriculture Omnibus Bill and another bill that would extend eligibility to members of the Minnesota National Guard for reenlistment bonuses.
Walz signed into law a bill early in the week that authorizes service members in the Minnesota National Guard who have more than 12 years of service to be eligible for enlistment or reenlistment bonuses.
On May 23, Walz appointed Nancy Daubenberger to serve as the Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT). Daubenberger has worked for the Minnesota Department of Transportation for over 22 years, in engineering and management positions. Nancy was appointed deputy commissioner and chief engineer in December 2019.
Prior to her current role, Daubenberger served as the assistant commissioner for engineering services, the state bridge engineer and previously served in planning, project management and design roles for the MnDOT bridge office and Metro district. Before coming to MnDOT, she worked in consulting for about six years, in both bridge and road design. She has led the agency since the departure of former commissioner, Margaret Anderson Kelliher.
Walz directed all flags at state and federal buildings in Minnesota to be flown at half-staff effective May 24, until sunset on May 28, to honor the lives lost in the school shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. “As we mourn the loss of the victims of this senseless act of violence, we know the pain we experience as a nation is only amplified for the friends and families of the victims,” reads the proclamation issued by Walz. “We join states across the nation to remember and honor the victims whose lives were senselessly lost.”
Minnesota joins the nation, in accordance with a proclamation issued by President Joe Biden, to remember, mourn and honor the lives lost in Uvalde. Individuals, businesses, and other organizations are also encouraged to join in lowering their flags.
On May 26, Walz signed into law the agriculture omnibus bill, providing drought relief, investments in broadband and support for agricultural programs including the Agricultural Emergency Account, the Bio-incentive program and the Emerging Farmers Working group.
“As farmers grapple with extreme weather, costs of modernization and unforeseen events like avian influenza, this bipartisan bill helps to address some of the most urgent issues facing our agricultural producers,” said Governor Walz. “I am proud that we can come together and make investments in supporting farmers through the issues of today while also investing in the future of the agriculture.”
Highlights of the bill include:
$18.4 million in drought relief including direct grants to farmers, relief through the Rural Finance Authority and $5 million to the department of natural resources to replace drought-killed seedlings and support reforestation efforts. $1.5 million for the Agricultural Emergency Account to support animal disease preparedness and response, as well as $1 million to the University of Minnesota to purchase veterinary diagnostic equipment to test for animal diseases. $1.25 million for the Bio-incentive program to encourage commercial-scale production of advanced biofuels, renewable chemicals and biomass thermal energy. $1.25 million for the creation of a new, innovative down payment assistance program targeted toward beginning farmers. $827,000 for emerging farmers, to support beginning farmers from underrepresented communities enter the field of agriculture. Over $200 million to support broadband development and the establishment of a lower population density pilot program.