Local legislators discuss priorities this session at Bemidji Chamber event

The Bemidji Area Chamber of Commerce hosted a legislative panel at the Sanford Center Friday.

State senators Justin Eichorn of district 5 and Paul Utke of district 2 were there, as were representatives Matt Bliss of 5A and Steve Green of 2B.

Representative Matt Grossell (2A) was not in attendance.

Ashley Johnson from the Northwest Minnesota Foundation moderated the question and answer period, with two questions prepared and the rest coming from the audience.

One top-of-mind issue is school funding, as Bemidji Area Schools look to make further cuts to their budget after two failed referendums.

Utke said a new formula would fix rural schools like Bemidji, claiming percentage increases per-pupil benefit metro area schools more.

Rep. Green responded to questions and comments on the supposed labor shortage, which many of the Republican lawmakers believe was due to COVID-era unemployment benefits.

There will not be a traditional Bemidji Day at the State Capitol this year.

Larissa Donovan is the News Director for the stations of Paul Bunyan Broadcasting and has been, almost without interruption, since Election Day 2016. She covers all the beats in north-central Minnesota, such as local government, crime, education, environment and social issues. She studied communications at Bemidji State University. You can follow along with Larissa's live tweets of meetings and events on Twitter!

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