- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 10, 2014

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - The new Republican majority in the Minnesota House has created several committees to address the concerns of rural lawmakers.

Republicans plan to continue focusing more attention on Greater Minnesota rather than the Twin Cities, a theme that helped them reclaim the House, Minnesota Public Radio News (https://bit.ly/1B8uf9p ) reported.

“We believe that the Democrats really failed Minnesota over the last couple of years by focusing too much on Minneapolis and St. Paul and not really focusing on the rest of the state,” said House Speaker-Designate Kurt Daudt of Crown.

One of the new committees, the Greater Minnesota Economic and Workforce Development Policy, points toward a non-metro agenda. But state Rep. Bob Gunther, committee chairman, said he wants to help the whole state but with a greater focus on rural areas.

“For 120 years, Greater Minnesota supported, financially and otherwise, the metro area,” said Gunther, a Republican from Fairmont. “I think it’s time we try to help ourselves a little bit more.”

Another committee, Mining and Outdoor Recreation Policy, plans to address the project proposal made by PolyMet Mining Corp. for a copper nickel mine in northeastern Minnesota.

Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton has declined to take a position on the mining project until he sees a complete environmental review. He has also rejected Republican claims that Democrats have ignored Greater Minnesota.

“If they want to come back and propose what we can do to better serve Greater Minnesota, I’m all ears,” Dayton said. “I welcome that. We’ll see what they come up with once they get down to specifics.”

The House also plans to create an Agriculture Finance Committee that will be chaired by state Rep. Rod Hamilton, a hog farmer from Mountain Lake.

Minnesota House Research Department data shows non-metro counties pay 16 percent more in taxes than metro counties and get back 6 percent less in major tax aids, credits and refunds.

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Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, https://www.mprnews.org


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