On Friday (4/3/2015) afternoon, a group of elected women officials met with Charles Sutton, Field Representative for U.S. Senator Al Franken, in the Senator’s St. Paul Office. We were representing WiLL, Women Legislators’ Lobby, and the major topic was federal budget expenditures, but we also covered health care, the minimum wage, helping families, and transportation. There are so many issues that need attention now!
We also learned that Senator Franken had been on Letterman the night before.
Attending this meeting were State Senators Sandy Pappas and Chris Eaton, Representatives Phyllis Kahn, Sandy Masin, Rena Moran, and Ramsey County Commissioner Mary Jo McGuire.
Thanks to all who attended the Town Hall Meeting that Senator Carlson and I hosted on Saturday at the Wescott Library. We were very pleased to have Adam Duininck, Chair of the Metropolitan Council, Steven Chavez , the Met Council Representative for District 15, and Sean Rahn, the Assistant Commissioner from the Minnesota Department of Transportation as our guests. They led off by providing information on their background and responsibilities of their positions. The remaining time was responding to questions from the audience regarding plans for the future, the interaction between the various levels of government, and funding for recreation trails vs. funding for transportation trails. There were questions about expanding late night bus service as well as service from Eagan High School to the other side of the city. Councilmember Gary Hansen was in the audience and added comments on the public transit questions. It was a lively discussion that continued well after the official conclusion of the meeting. Again, thank you to everyone for your interest and your participation.
Another busy week, extra committee meetings as we near the first deadline and lots of visitors. Private College Day on the Hill representatives conveyed the importance of state grants for education. Homeless Day on the Hill had many advocates to address the issue of homelessness. JRLC Day on the Hill and Carpenters Council Day on the Hill also had people here to represent the views of their organizations. Advocates of juvenile justice reform had a strong presence, they were encouraging the passage of HF 1069 and SF 994. Advance Care Planning Conversations is also another topic that was brought forward. We did hear this bill in my Aging and Long Term Care Committee last week. It is encouraging to see so many people engaged in trying to solve problems.
I attended the Alzheimer’s Association ISTAART RECEPTION yesterday. The guest speaker was Michael Weiner, M.D., a professor at University of California San Francisco and a leading researcher in this field. He put research on Alzheimer’s in perspective with research on cancer and other critical conditions. He highly recommended reading The Emperor of All Maladies, a book on cancer. I noticed that PBS has a documentary with this title scheduled for March 30. The INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY to ADVANCE RESEARCH and TREATMENT has a conference scheduled from July 18-23 in Washington, D.C.
There are an estimated 100,000 Minnesotans living with Alzheimer’s and that figure is predicted to increase significantly as the Baby Boomers age. Symptoms of Alzheimer’s include memory loss and wandering. Several bills were heard earlier this week in the House HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES REFORM COMMITTEE on this issue. H.F. 805 was passed and referred to the next committee. That bill directs the Commissioner of Public Safety to set up a working group to study Minnesota’s need for a Silver Alert System to aid in the recovery of senior citizens with dementia, traumatic brain injury, Alzheimer’s disease or other mental disabilities.
The Alzheimer’s Association has a 24/7 Helpline available, 1-800-272-3900.
I had lunch at The Open Door’s 6th Annual Empty Bowls Fundraiser at Saint John Neumann on Thursday. It was a great opportunity to see many friends and neighbors.
Sometimes people in our community lack the resources to get enough food. The Open Door has food shelves and a mobile unit to provide food to those that need the extra help. The Open Door has facilities in Eagan and Lakeville. It was formally known as The Eagan and Lakeville Resource Centers. The Business Office can be contacted at 651-688-3189.
A group of state legislators that serve on the Transportation Committees went to St. Cloud and Willmar today to listen to the residents voice their thoughts and concerns on transportation issues.
First we stopped at the James W. Miller Learning Resources Center at St Cloud University. There we met with people from the University and St. Cloud Metro Bus authority. They have formed a strong partnership and students account for 50% of the ridership. One student said it was a lot easier and cheaper to ride the bus than spending money on car repairs and other expenses. We were told that having the bus routes also increases student safety.
We rode on one of their buses that uses compressed natural gas. The use of this fuel is a substantial cost savings and they are planning on buying more of these buses for their fleet. The buses are made in St. Cloud at the New Flyer plant. We drove over to view the Metro Bus transit hub and then over to the Mobility Center. The Mobility Center has a mockup of a bus as well as ramps. The Center gives staff the opportunity to help gage the types of help an individual needs as well as helping the visitor become accustomed to using public transit.
Next we went to the St. Cloud City Hall where Senator Scott Dibble convened the listening session. Commissioner Zelle led off with some general comments on Minnesota’s transportation situation. Then over thirty local officials and residents commented on the need to improve our transportation system and some shared thoughts on financing. Ryan Daniel, the Executive Director of Metro Bus said “Where transportation goes, the community grows.”
Our last stop was at Northern States Supply in Willmar. Here again were a number of residents and local officials that expressed their needs and the benefits of improving transportation infrastructure in that region. A priority is getting all of Highway 23 to four lanes.
The 2015 Legislative Session officially began on January 6. In addition to the newly elected officials taking the oath of office, a number of operating procedures are approved. The highlight was the installation of the new Chief Clerk, Patrick D. Murphy. Pat has been part of the Chief Clerk’s Office for quite a while and will do a great job.
After session on January 15th, the House held a ceremony and reception to honor the former Chief Clerk, Albin A. Mathiowetz, for 43 years of service. We are extremely fortunate to have such dedicated and knowledgeable individuals help us carry out the duties of the House of Representatives.
On the second day, January 7, legislators gather at the Humphrey Institute for One Minnesota. This gives us a chance to hear from our State Demographer, our State Economist and other resources on issues that will be important during the next couple of years and beyond. The changing of our demographics is particularly important as we plan for the future.
The majority of committee work this month has been getting overviews from various agencies and organizations, but the bills are now starting to come through. I have met with constituents, advocates from numerous organizations, and the Eagan City Council.
I will be serving on the following committees: Aging and Long-Term Care, Health and Human Service Reform, and Transportation Policy and Finance.
I spent the morning at Burnsville High School watching the Robotics Team work on their project, a robot that can stack recycle containers. The students use some sophisticated equipment to accomplish this task. I was fascinated by the 3-D printer. They make many of the parts they need with this machine, parts that they designed. In addition to building the robot, the team is also developing a presentation and a display about their work.
The project has to be done in six weeks, so the students and their adult mentors spend extensive time working on it. It means all day Saturday as well as many hours during the week.
Organist Aaron David Miller played the music to the silent movie “City Lights” at The House of Hope Presbyterian Church this afternoon. Mr. Miller did an impressive job of accompanying the action on the screen.
“City Lights” is said to be one on the best of Charlie Chaplin’s movies. He wrote, directed and starred in the masterpiece. He also composed the music. The movie dates back to 1931 and is one of the last of the silent era. It is amazing to see how how involved you can be even though there are no words to hear. Really great family entertainment.
The Memorial Service for Richard Jensen was held on January 3rd at Easter Lutheran Church by the Lake. It was an incredible tribute to a man who touched so many lives around the world and left a very strong legacy.
The offciants were Reverend Kristen Capel, his niece, of Easter Lutheran Church and Reverend David Berg, a former student and colleague, of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Rochester, MN.
The service included the singing of “Borning Cry,” a song John Ulvisaker wrote and composed while collaborating with Dick for the video series, Waterlife. The composer played the guitar for the service.
An impressive host of people participated in the celebration of this man’s life. Among them were Bishop Patricia Lull of the St. Paul Area Synod who delivered greetings from the ECLA and Dr. Mihreteab Gebrehiiiwet who talked about his recollections of his teacher at the Mekane Yesus Seminary in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The blessing at the end was a recording of Richard Jensen singing “As You Go On Your Way,” a tune composed by John Ylvisaker for him to sing at the closing of each Lutheran Vespers program.
He is survived by his wife, Bonnie, their three children, Doron, Dodi, Derek, and grandchildren.