Flaherty & Hood’s legislative team staffed the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities’ Fall Conference Nov. 17 at Arrowwood Resort & Conference Center in Alexandria. Despite a blizzard forecast (which led to the planned two-day conference being condensed into one), more than 85 city leaders from throughout Greater Minnesota attended the conference where they learned about several issues that are important to their communities.

Attendees were treated to an entertaining and informative keynote presentation by Washington Post reporter Chris Ingraham. Ingraham is the reporter who got Minnesotans riled up last year when he wrote an article that named Red Lake County “America’s Worst Place to Live” (based on data from the “national amenities index”) and then further raised eyebrows when he decided to move to Red Lake Falls in May 2016. At the conference, he discussed his transition from living in an urban area near Washington D.C. to small-town Minnesota and the challenges and opportunities it has afforded him and his family. The conference also featured a presentation by Minnesota Department of Transportation Commissioner Charles Zelle, an election analysis by Flaherty & Hood lobbyist Bradley Peterson, a presentation and small-group discussion on rural Minnesota’s current “brain gain” led by University of Minnesota educator Ryan Pesch, and a panel discussion on the topic of legislative reform featuring legislators Sen. Torrey Westrom (R-Elbow Lake), Sen. Kent Eken (DFL-Twin Valley), Rep. Tim O’Driscoll (R-Sartell) and Rep. Mike Nelson (DFL-Brooklyn Park).

In preparation for the upcoming legislative session, Flaherty & Hood staff also provided presentations and led discussions on the CGMC’s 2017 legislative policy positions on the topics of annexation and land use, transportation, environment and energy, Local Government Aid and property taxes, and economic development.