The finish line is in sight for the 2019 legislative session, with under four weeks to go before adjournment. We are now passing budget bills off the floor in the Senate. Soon, we will be in negotiations with the House and Gov. Tim Walz to find compromise to pass a final budget that reflects the values we all share that funds the priorities of Minnesota.
Spring has arrived in Minnesota, and I'm sure we are all thankful for the warmth and sunshine after this year's winter. A consequence of this warmth is melting snow and spring flooding, which much of our community is fighting. I want to thank Gov. Tim Walz, Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, Rep. Angie Craig, and many other local, state and federal leaders who have been working together to address the effects of this flooding. I want to give a special thank you to the volunteers and public works staff who are working to prepare for these floods.
Our most important role in the Legislature is creating a budget to fund priorities and essential programs for Minnesotans. Together with my colleagues in the Senate and the House, we will work together to craft individual budget bills, and then bring them together to pass a final budget.
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)