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Fewer mandates tops county's legislative wish list

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Washington County officials hope this is the time it will happen.

The county is preparing its wish list for when state lawmakers return to St. Paul next year, and the item at the top of the list hasn't changed for several years: Either provide more funding for state services that the county carries out, or eliminate those unfunded mandates.

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A proposed list of legislative priorities includes 16 mandates the county wants changed or repealed. They including removing a requirement that the sheriff's department provide court security and allowing the county to publish public documents on the Internet instead of paying to publish them in local newspapers.

The county's priorities also include other familiar projects: construction of a new St. Croix River bridge crossing; $1 million for continued transportation work along Interstate 94; and $500,000 for a Newport park-and-ride facility.

Washington County Commissioner Gary Kriesel said he would like the legislative agenda to include allowing townships to do their own land-use planning. The county does that planning now. Commissioners also are discussing whether to request that lawmakers study the funding model for 4-H programs and a proposal to review watershed taxing.

The County Board will approve the 2011 legislative priorities later this year.

The Legislature convenes in January.

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