Northland lawmakers weigh in on proposal to move taconite taxes south

Representative Dave Lislegard (DFL-Aurora) and Senator Grant Hauschild (DFL-Hermantown) called on Republicans to retract their proposal to send taconite tax dollars to non-Iron Range communities of Cromwell, Moose Lake, and Willow River.

Senate File 3799, introduced by Senator Jason Rarick (R-Pine City) would add language to the statute establishing the Taconite Assistance Area (TAA) to expand the region to the Cromwell, Moose Lake, and Willow River School Districts.

By expanding the TAA, the newly added communities and school districts outside the Iron Range would be eligible for appropriations of limited Taconite tax proceeds collected and distributed by the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB). The result would mean less funding staying on the Iron Range and rather an outsourcing of mining tax dollars outside the Iron Range.

“I’ve spent my entire career fighting for mining and our local communities on the Iron Range, said Representative Dave Lislegard. “From my initial layoff at LTV to my time as a local Range City Councilor, Mayor, and now State Representative, I’ve made it my mission to protect the core Iron Range. This proposal is a direct threat to our region, and we need every community member, local elected leader, and mining stakeholder to call this out for what it is. A robber baron proposal to steal our community’s money. This proposal will never have a chance as long as Senator Hauschild and I are representing the Range.”

Senator Hauschild added, “Make no mistake, there is a concerted effort to come after our mining tax dollars. Nearby politicians are salivating at the idea of taking what is rightfully the Iron Range’s money for themselves and we cannot let that happen. Past Iron Range Legislators from Senator Doug Johnson to Representative Tommy Rukavina have warned about this happening for decades and now we have a real Republican proposal that would do it. I will continue to call this out because it is a direct threat to our Iron Range communities.”

Senator Rob Farnsworth (R- Hibbing) released the following statement responding to a proposed bill to expand the Taconite Assistance Area (TAA) to include Carlton County. The bill, as proposed, would not result in any TAA expansion until mining is approved and begins. 

“I am aware that a bill to include portions of Carlton County in the Taconite Assistance Area has been introduced in the Senate. While 20% of Talon’s leases are in Carlton County, Talon officials have told me they have found ‘no significant mineralization’ yet. Until we have a better idea of the mineral reserves in that county, this bill is premature and doesn’t have my support.

“However, expanding the TAA, like we did for portions of Aitkin County last year, is a discussion we need to have because ultimately, the expansion of mining in Minnesota is a good thing.

“Schools across the state are struggling with the expensive mandates from last session. Grandstanding by legislators on this issue only drives a partisan wedge on the Range and is not helpful. Frankly, I’m far more concerned about metro DFL bills to ban mining and add more permitting requirements making progress this session. I will continue to work with my colleagues from both parties to help them understand the unique needs and resources on the Range.”