Stang sworn in as youngest member in House

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 1/7/97.

The Minnesota Legislature met to swear in new members on the House and Senate floor yesterday, Jan. 7, kicking off the 1997 session. Among the new members on the House floor is Doug Stang, R-Paynesville, who is representing District 14B. Stang has been attending caucus sponsored meetings and freshman orientation to get up-to-date on what is expected to take place during the upcoming session.

Stang expects welfare issues to take top priority this session. The state has a July 1 deadline to have a welfare plan in place or the state will lose its federal funding.

“There is strong public support for a workfare system. I feel that is the direction to go,” Stang said. At present, welfare recipients only need be a state resident 30 days before receiving aid. Under the new plan, they would be required to hold a residency of six months to a year before receiving aid.

“I feel the present system is being challenged and the people want change,” he added. “Public support urges a workfare program. It will still be a controversial topic as the new plan will affect a lot of people’s lives.

“Under the new plan, more control will be given to the county governments. The Minnesota Family Investment program was such a success that the state is considering giving the counties more leeway in managing the welfare program for their area. Counties can run more efficiently and have proven not to waste as much money as state programs,” Stang said.

Property taxes will be debated and talked about again this session. “I feel there will be a conflict between rural and metro legislators,” Stang said. ”The legislature needs to control spending which is hard to do as they haven’t been able to control spending in the past.”

Stang said taxes get to be a heated topic every session. No one wants to take the initiative to take a stand to do something. People are tired of little changes and want to see major reform done to the whole property tax system.

Another area which will receive a lot of attention in the upcoming session is education. Stang says there are plans to restore the $75 per pupil unit which was cut last session. “The restoration of funds is the first thing on the education agenda,” Stang added.

“There could be other changes coming in education funding,” Stang said. “The legislature is considering taking on more responsibility in school funding. The state would cover 70 percent of the cost, providing needed relief for school district taxpayers.”

Stang is talking with legislators to see if the dates can be changed when funding is released to districts. “Schools never hear how much funding they will receive until the school year starts in August. It would make it easier for budgeting purposes if they could plan a year ahead. I would like to see the education bill finalized earlier in the session instead of leaving it to the last week of the session,” he added.

Another big item this session will be the stadium proposal for the Minnesota Twins. “I haven’t heard from one person who supports a stadium. Voters don’t want to support something that doesn’t benefit the whole state. Revenue from the stadium only benefits the metro area, not outstate residents,” Stang said. “Many people have expressed concern that if pro-team owners can pay huge salaries to players, they can build their own stadium,” he added.

Stang said the ethics issue will be a concern again this year. The Republican caucus composed a code of conduct which has been given to all House members. “Prior to this session, the House never had conduct rules for legislators,” Stang added. “During the last session, legislators were put on their toes by the ethics complaints. House members have been on the watch for violations.

Stang has been appointed to the transportation resource committee, environmental/natural resource committee, and transportation committee. “I was happy to be appointed to the committees but a little disappointed as well,” Stang said. He had applied to be on the ag committee, but didn’t receive the assignment. “The committees I’m assigned to will help area farmers with feedlot issues, and concerns with the DNR,” he said. The DNR is considering raising hunting and fishing fees for the 1997-98 season.

“The legislature, as a whole, has a lot of hard workers. Central Minnesota has a strong group of representatives. I want to work hard at being accessible to the people of the district I serve,” Stang said. “I encourage the people of the district to contact me at the legislature or my home address.” Stang’s House phone number is 612-296-4373. His home number is 320-243-7033. He can be reached by mail at Box 435, Cold Spring, MN 56320.

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