BAXTER -- Area lawmakers at an Eggs and Issues session Friday at Bonanza Family Restaurant recounted the actions of the past year's legislative session and answered questions of those who attended the breakfast.
* PARTIAL GOVERNMENT BREAKDOWN -- Gazelka and Howes said the partial government breakdown resulted because lawmakers had firmly held beliefs and wanted to represent their constituents' interests. "I don't apologize for it," Howes said. "I'm proud of a lot of what we did." Gazelka said that on certain issues "there's not a lot of middle ground."
* LEGISLATIVE ACCOMPLISHMENTS -- Gazelka said the growth in social services spending was slowed from 19 percent per biennium to 16 percent per biennium. Ruud said the Legislature approved an $884 million bonding bill, passed a significant crime bill and approved a mandatory post-Labor Day school starting date. Blaine noted the Legislature passed a 2 1/4 percent raise in each of the next two years for nursing home workers, an ethanol bill, a fetal pain bill and balanced the budget without raising state income taxes.
* PARTISANSHIP -- "We have a very minute few who are willing to put political agenda ahead of government service," Blaine said.
* STATE HEALTH COSTS -- Health and Human Services spending has increased substantially. "We need to get our hands around this with a program we can literally afford," Blaine said.
* BONDING BILL -- Lawmakers will tour Bowlus, Garrison, Little Falls and other communities this week to look at potential bonding bill projects for next year, Koering said.
* POLLUTION -- After hearing of problems the Trus Joist firm of Deerwood has encountered with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Koering suggested an oversight board that would have authority over some of the agency's regulations. He also said the lengthy permitting process was "unacceptable."
* EDUCATION -- Gazelka said there were not many industries that permitted their employees to retire at a relatively young age and pay health care costs until they are 65. Howes criticized lucrative retirement packages for superintendents and health-care coverage for school board members.
* NORTHWEST AIRLINES -- "I don't think the state's going to bail them out this time," Gazelka said.
MIKE O'ROURKE can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5860.
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