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10th Annual ‘Rochester on Tour’ at the Capitol

Posted at: 02/05/2013 9:55 PM
Updated at: 02/05/2013 10:44 PM
By: Steph Crock

(ABC 6 News) -- A big day for Rochester up at the Minnesota State Capitol as hundreds came together to represent the "Med City." The 10th Annual Rochester on Tour at the capitol has now wrapped up.

A day where everyone from city leaders, to community members get together and talk with their lawmakers. This year was as important as ever with some key issues on the table.

Mayo Clinic’s "Destination Medical Center" proposal was the big topic Tuesday. However, the event was also about the public simply seeing how their government works.

"I think we need to ‘toot our own horn’ at times," said Rochester Mayor Ardell Brede. He wasn’t talking about the RCTC Jazz Band's performance at the event, but the chance for Rochester residents to proudly represent themselves at the capitol. This is something they do each year.
    
"The number of years they've been here and it's exciting every year that they come," said Republican Representative Mike Benson.

"Obviously the people! We are up here kind of alone all week and suddenly we have 500 visitors from home," said Republican Senator David Senjem.

It's not just a celebration though, one of the main reasons for the trip is for residents of all ages to meet their lawmakers. "I just met with a group of about 50 students and had kind of a  'Q-and-A' with Representative Benson and Quam which was a really nice opportunity,"  said Democratic Representative Kim Norton.
     
"There's all kinds of forums that have to do with Rochester’s future. We've got one that's specific for veterans and one for students," said Sen. Senjem. With hopes to influence them on certain issues. "Basically we're trying to lobby for a vets home in Rochester," said Rochester Vietnam Veteran Rod Zeller.

The most notable project is the newly introduced, $6 billion dollar expansion proposal from Mayo Clinic. One that could create thousands of jobs. "That bill is going to start moving through the process and it’s a fabulous opportunity to have folks share their enthusiasm about that project with my colleagues," said Rep. Norton.

"We're talking about the 'Destination Medical Center,' making sure that there’s an understanding on how that's going and also the other priority of the city is the Mayo Civic Center," said Mayor Brede.

No matter the stance on legislation, Tuesday was a chance for the community to see their ideas matter. "It's good that the representatives, the senators, are here and know how passionate the people of Rochester are about it and the impact we have on the state of Minnesota," said Rep. Benson.

There was a full day itinerary for those who were part of the tour. The night ended with a grand reception at the Wellstone Center.