The first month of the 2019 legislative session is over. My colleagues and I are hard at work introducing legislation and holding committee hearings, moving legislation through the process. Our biggest priority in 2019 is crafting a budget that will fund essential state services and priorities over the next two years. This budget will touch on everything from education needs for students from pre-K through college, to transportation upkeep and maintenance, to human services like caring for our most vulnerable citizens.
Happy New Year, everyone! The 2019 legislative session begins Tuesday, Jan. 8 and will conclude no later than the first Monday after the third Saturday in May as prescribed by Minnesota's Constitution. During the next five-and-a-half months, state lawmakers are responsible for writing a new two-year budget. The Legislature's work begins in earnest when Minnesota Management and Budget releases a new forecast of state expenditures and revenue collections in February 2019.
As the daughter of a sailor and the granddaughter of a soldier, it is my honor to thank each and every individual who has served in our armed forces and made sacrifices to protect our freedoms. America is the greatest nation in history because of brave men and women who put themselves in harm's way to preserve our exceptional way of life. Our service members past and present are heroes in the truest sense possible.
It is my pleasure to welcome students of all ages back to classrooms, campuses and everywhere else you are building new skills and pursuing your dreams! As the daughter and sister of longtime public school employees, I also want to express my gratitude for every individual who makes our exceptional public education system possible.
On Feb. 20, 2018 — the same day I was sworn in as state senator — news broke that the state settled its lawsuit against the 3M for $850 million. The Minnesota attorney general filed the lawsuit in 2010 to hold 3M accountable for polluting drinking water and natural resources in the east metro. The Legislature passed a law to safeguard settlement resources, which protects taxpayers like you from having to pay for a problem you did not create.
Washington County is growing rapidly, with both residents and businesses seeking a home in the county. In Washington County, 86 percent of businesses have fewer than 20 employees, and the county has more than 17,000 self-employed businesses. Many of these small businesses are operated in homes and not in a commercial building visible to the community. As county commissioner, it is important to me that we work to create an environment that supports existing businesses and works to foster new businesses.
Building and repairing Washington County infrastructure is a core component of county government. There will be four major infrastructure projects underway this summer in south Washington County. These projects will improve road safety, protect our environment, allow for economic development and enhance our amenities. County Highway 22 (70th Street)
It may be safe to assume most Washington County residents have not heard of county program aid. Yet, it is important to take a glimpse into this key funding resource and learn how the Legislature's attention to this topic could reduce your property tax bill. Property taxes have, and most likely will always be, the main source of revenue for county operations. As the administrative level of many state government programs, counties are responsible for roads, bridges and County State Aid Highways.
Another great year is coming to an end in south Washington County, with more improvements on the way for 2017. The leadership and staff continue to focus efforts on providing for a county that continues to grow in population as it becomes older and more diverse.
As a fast-growing county, we need to work together to meet the demands this growth presents. According to the Metropolitan Council, Washington County is expected to add 100,000 residents by...