Range Lawmakers Introduce American Steel Bill

By KBJR News 1

January 12, 2012 Updated Jan 12, 2012 at 7:54 PM CDT

(Northland's NewsCenter)---Iron Range lawmakers believe they have a solution that will keep tax payer's dollars in the country, create job growth in the state and strengthen the mining industry.

A bill will be introduced this legislative session that would require any state-funded public works projects to be built with American steel.

At a time when construction and manufacturing workers are struggling with unemployment, lawmakers say the American steel bill will get people back on the job.

"By boosting our manufacturing business, our mining businesses, we know that those are good paying jobs and our overall economy is going to benefit," Representative Carly Melin, (DFL-Hibbing) said. "This American steel bill is on the forefront of that."

Brandon Anderson, an engineer at RC Fabricators a steel fabrication company in Hibbing says the bill would give many local contractors a chance to even the playing field against steel making companies overseas.

"If we were actually even able to bid on a project like Essar, then we'd have a shot at being awarded the contract," Anderson said. "If we had such a large project like that, that might enable us to even hire more people and support the Iron Range economy more."

Lawmakers say a key task this session will be to pass a bonding package that allows the state to issue bonds and fix aging infrastructure.

"It just seems to me that if we build it in Minnesota, with taxpayers dollars, then we should at least be buying American products to do it," Senator David Tomassoni, (DFL-Chisholm) said.

"When our tax payers are putting forth their money to support some of these projects, they should be guaranteed that that money is creating and supporting American jobs," Rep. Melin said.

The bill will be given an official House file number on the first day of the legislative session.

With a focus on creating jobs, lawmakers say they also they also hope to get state funding to expand engineering and science education at Range community colleges.

Posted to the web: Jennifer Walch