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Letter: Wills ready to represent the zoo

To the editor,

I am honored to have been elected to represent District 57B, which includes Rosemount, northern Apple Valley and Coates. I want my constituents to know my strong desire to be their voice and advocate, and that includes advocating for the Minnesota Zoo -- one of the most important assets here in District 57B. The zoo is a destination for families to take their children, provides 220-300 jobs depending on the season, and has an annual statewide economic impact of over $114 million dollars.

After I was elected, Minority Leader Kurt Daudt formally recommended I be placed on the Legacy Committee, which allocates money from the Legacy Amendment that was passed by voters in 2008.  The Zoo receives about 29 percent of its annual budget funding from the state, some of which comes from the Legacy Amendment funds. The remaining 71 percent of the zoo's budget comes from private donors and patrons. I have met with the zoo's CEO and director, Lee Ehmke, and believe the Minnesota Zoo has a visionary plan to maintain and grow exhibits so it can continue to thrive in our community. The zoo is a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars and is very deserving of the Legacy Amendment funding it receives.

Although House rules are very clear that recommendations from the Minority Leader are to be followed, Speaker Paul Thissen chose to replace me with a different representative on the Legacy Committee. Given my desire to be an advocate for the Minnesota Zoo, I have had discussions with both Minority Leader Daudt and Speaker Thissen to convey how important this committee assignment is to me. I am pleased to have been put back on the committee and I look forward to being a strong advocate for the Minnesota Zoo and the rest of District 57B this legislative session.

Anna Wills

Anna Wills is the State Representative for District 57B.