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POLITICS: DFL Sen. Tom Saxhaug to run for re-election

Sen. Tom Saxhaug

BEMIDJI—Sen. Tom Saxhaug, DFL-Grand Rapids, announced Monday he will be on the ballot for re-election come November.

Saxhaug has held a seat in the Minnesota Senate since 2002 and won his first three elections in District 3. In the most recent election cycles, though, Saxhaug has ran for District 5 seat because of redistricting. For his time in the state Legislature, Saxhaug said there are a few issues that have remained a priority, such as protecting Minnesota's forests.

In a press release Saxhaug said he "has been an active legislator, often taking the lead and securing funding for a number of key issues affecting Northern Minnesota. For the last decade he has led the way on forestry issues at the Capitol, ensuring a healthy, sustainable, multi-use forest and protecting the habitat and jobs these forest provide."

Along with his work on forestry issues at the capitol, Saxhaug also serves as chairman of the Finance Committee's State Departments and Veterans Budget Division and is a member of the Finance and Education Committees. Additionally, Saxhaug is a member of the Iron Range Resource and Rehabilitation Board and sits on the Lessard Sams Outdoor Heritage Council.

Saxhaug's re-election announcement comes just about a month before the Legislature reconvenes with multiple issues pertaining to the state's $1.8 billion surplus.

In an interview Monday, Saxhaug said a third of the surplus will go to reserves, leaving $1.2 billion for legislation when the session resumes, which is later this year, March 8. Saxhaug said he expects bills regarding transportation, taxes and the bonding bills to be important topics during this year's session.

One project affecting Bemidji that could be in this year's bonding bill is the demolition and replacement of Hagg-Sauer Hall at BSU with the new Hagg-Sauer Academic Learning Center. The institution has noted water and accessibility issues in the current building and have requested $18.1 million to replace the structure with a smaller one.

"It will be taken care of with a reasonable bonding bill," Saxhaug said.

Another high priority item Saxhaug said he plans to advocate for in the bonding bill is a Northern Minnesota Veterans Home in Bemidji, with space for 70 beds.

In his press release, Saxhaug noted past support for veteran programs and said he "has worked to streamline the core functions of the state government and increased funding to the veterans programs in Minnesota."

As of Monday, Saxhaug is the only candidate who has announced his candidacy for District 5.

Matthew Liedke

Matthew Liedke is the city, county and state government reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer. He also covers business, politics and financial news.

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