More local government aid from the state, new laws to prevent gun violence and discourage catalytic converter theft, and additional resources for affordable housing and programs for people who are homeless highlight the city of Saint Paul’s wish list for the 2022 session of the Minnesota Legislature.

The City Council approved the 22-page document on February 16.

With this year being a bonding year for the Legislature, the city is requesting funds to build a new Mississippi Riverfront education center at Crosby Farm Park, build a new North End Community Center, renovate the orangutan habitat at Como Zoo and replace the bridge that carries Kellogg Boulevard traffic past RiverCentre.

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A couple of fisherpersons wet their lines in the Mississippi River where it passes through Hidden Falls and Crosby Farm Regional Park. Photo by Brad Stauffer

The city is lobbying the Legislature to preserve the state historic tax credits. Resources are also being sought to build more supportive housing for youths and seniors and to help cost-burdened households remain in their homes.

The city is supporting new laws to discourage the theft of catalytic converters…(and) to prevent gun violence.

The city is seeking an increase in local government aid (LGA) from the state to relieve the pressure for property tax increases. LGA makes up about 21 percent of the city’s general fund. Saint Paul officials contend that it has not kept up with inflation. The state Department of Revenue has calculated the total statewide need for LGA at $776.4 million per year. However, the Legislature has capped the annual outlay at $566.4 million. The city wants that gap closed, and wants the state to adjust LGA annually for inflation.

The city is supporting new laws to discourage the theft of catalytic converters. That has become a big problem in recent years. Fifty of these auto parts were stolen in just the first two weeks of February in the portion of Saint Paul served by MyVillager. The convertors are sold by thieves to scrap yards, which dismantle them for their precious metals. The city has made it a misdemeanor to possess a catalytic converter that is not attached to a car, yet without the cooperation of other cities it is still difficult to catch and prosecute thieves.

 

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The city is also supporting new measures to prevent gun violence, including background checks on all gun purchases and red flag laws that allow people to petition a court to temporarily prevent persons who are deemed a high risk to themselves or others from possessing a firearm.

The city is also championing issues it has supported in the past, including more funding for transit, more resources to combat the emerald ash borer and the legalization of marijuana for recreational use.

— Jane McClure

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