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Saxhaug, Gazelka part of rural task force

State Sen. Tom Saxhaug, DFL-Grand Rapids, and Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, announced the formation of a rural legislative task force, which includes Saxhaug and Sen. Paul Gazelka, R-Cass County.

The bipartisan panel of eight senators will work this fall to identify specific needs for rural Minnesota, including nursing home and health care access, education, transportation, economic development and property taxes.

"The needs of Greater Minnesota can be very different than those in the metro area," said Saxhaug. "A one-size-fits-all approach doesn't work in areas that have a large amount of land and small population density. From the forests of northeastern Minnesota to the farmland in the south, providing economic growth and quality education in rural areas is a much different challenge than in the Twin Cities."

The bipartisan panel will be made up of four Republicans and four Democrats, all from rural communities. It will also feature involvement from The Association of Minnesota Counties, the League of Minnesota Cities, the Minnesota Association of Townships, the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities, the Minnesota Rural Caucus, the Minnesota Association of Small Cities, and members of the Governor's administration.

"I am honored and excited to begin work focusing on the needs of rural Minnesota," Gazelka said. "For too long the focus in the Legislature has been on the metro area. I believe our community and all rural Minnesotans deserve a stronger voice and I'm pleased to be a part of a bipartisan group of rural legislators as we head into a budget year to address agreed upon needs for rural Minnesota."

The group will meet once per month during the interim and bring forward potential legislation when the 2015 legislative session convenes.