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DMC funding fix a great example of bipartisan politics

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You've heard it all before.

Politicians assuring voters they will work across the aisle and pass bipartisan laws beneficial to the people of Minnesota. Unfortunately, these promises seem too often made to be broken, and most people view them more as a platitude during campaign season than a reality of governance.

Fortunately, Minnesota House Republicans have begun this legislative session by passing a bipartisan federal tax conformity bill that not only includes millions of dollars in tax relief for Minnesota families but also benefits Mayo Clinic and Destination Medical Center, ensuring the project can move forward smoothly.

This bill was the first debated on the House floor this year and passed unanimously Jan. 15. It passed the Senate a week later.

With DMC being such an important initiative not only for the growth of Mayo Clinic but also for the city of Rochester and its surrounding communities, I am pleased to see this tax bill with DMC fixes passed so quickly.

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Instead of this legislation being bogged down by political gamesmanship, Republicans negotiated with Senate and House Democrats to move through DMC language clarification, keeping the intention of last biennium's legislation intact and allowing the project to progress as planned.

For those unfamiliar with DMC or why the fix was needed, the original proposal was passed by the legislature in 2013. With $585 million approved for public funding from state and local sources, Mayo Clinic could expand, area infrastructure could be improved and the city would have a Destination Medical Center — attracting more people from around the globe to seek health-care treatment in Rochester and support our local and state economy.

In addition, DMC was intended to be a public-private partnership with private investments being matched with state dollars. Together, the project could bring $6 billion to our community.

Last fall, however, the DMC hit a road bump when Minnesota's Attorney General Lori Swanson sent a letter to the Department of Employment and Economic Development stating the way the law is written, it would require double the private investment to receive state funding, putting the future of the project in jeopardy.

So to keep the DMC project moving forward in a timely manner, Republican leaders acted quickly to pass clarifying language so the law works as intended. The bill passed last week in the House also ensured Rochester's costs to prepare the development plan for DMC counts toward the local government matching contribution for the project.

As a co-author of the DMC fix, I worked hard behind the scenes talking with legislators, committee chairs and state leaders to ensure this legislation moved forward without delay, getting to Gov. Mark Dayton's desk for signature as soon as possible.

Rochester and Mayo Clinic greatly benefit from this key piece of legislation, and I am thrilled to see this ambitious project moving forward. Our city will see a significant investment to improve the quality of life here and attract more people to seek medical treatment in our world-class institution.

I came to the Capitol to work hard for my district, fighting for the people and priorities of our community. As someone new to the legislature, it's wonderful to see what my GOP and DFL colleagues can accomplish when working together for the betterment of Minnesota.

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Although we won't agree on everything, I will continue to reach across the aisle to craft bipartisan legislation this session because being a state representative isn't about rhetoric or political parties — it's about doing the right thing for Minnesotans.

Nels Pierson, a Republican from Rochester, represents District 26B in the Minnesota House of Representatives.

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