Flaherty & Hood recently staffed the 2012 Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities Summer Conference. Over 80 representatives from 37 Greater Minnesota cities headed to Owatonna July 25-27 for informative sessions, CGMC administrative meetings, and fun community activities.

The City of Owatonna was a fantastic conference host. CGMC members were treated to an evening social at the Owatonna City Hall/Arts Center/State School Orphanage Museum. This event featured a moving presentation by Harvey Ronglien, who grew up in the State School Orphanage. Members also had the opportunity to embark on Owatonna’s famous Historic Downtown Walking Tour, visit infrastructure projects throughout the city, or take in a round of golf.

Flaherty & Hood lobbyists provided CGMC members with updates on the 2012 legislative session in the areas of annexation and land use, environment and energy, economic development, budget and tax constitutional amendments, labor relations and public employment, and property taxes and local government aid.

Tim Flaherty explained the importance of the CGMC and cities hosting candidate forums before the 2012 election. These events not only serve as a venue to inform candidates of the issues important to Greater Minnesota cities, but also demonstrate that cities and the Coalition will be active and engaged on these issues in the upcoming session.

State Sen. Julie Rosen, chief author of the Vikings stadium bill, was a luncheon keynote speaker, where she shared her insights and experiences in carrying this prominent legislation.

A conference session focused on the challenges cities face with aging infrastructure. Becky Sabie, a senior loan office with the Minnesota Public Facilities Authority, outlined the programs available to local governments to assist in infrastructure replacement. Tom Eggum of the Minnesota chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers discussed the status of Minnesota’s infrastructure and consequences of failing to make necessary investments.

Senate Majority Leader David Senjem (R-Rochester), State Sen. Rod Skoe (DFL-Clearbrook), State Rep. Morrie Lanning (R-Moorhead), and State Rep. Gene Pelowski (DFL-Winona) served on a panel that discussed tax issues important to Greater Minnesota cities, such as local government aid, property tax relief, and economic development.

A highlight of the conference, the CGMC Legislative Awards Dinner, recognized thirty state and local government officials for their contributions to Greater Minnesota. David Schultz, political analyst and Hamline University law professor, provided his predictions on the 2012 presidential election in a keynote address before the awards were presented.

Flaherty & Hood thanks all of the CGMC members who joined us in Owatonna! We look forward to staffing the Coalitions’s Fall Conference November 14-16 at Arrowwood Resort in Alexandria, where the CGMC will review election results and adopt its policy positions for the 2013 Legislative Session.