While we are still waiting for the leadership to finalize targets for the budget, we are still meeting in session to vote on bills and some conference committees are meeting to get work done.
On Friday, the Transsportation Conference Committee met and one of the topics was drones. At one point, Representative Brad Tapke (DFL) made a comment to the presiding Chair Scott Newman (R) expressing his frustration over the discussion of the past half-hour. Representative Tabke said that if the Senate Committee had heard the Governor’s Bill, the Conference Committee would be able to make more progress.
I totally agree with that opinion. While I was excited to get some of my bills passed in the House, it is virtually impossible to have a successful ending when the senate companion bills were never heard. The Senate Republicans are obviously not acknowledging the problems that many Minnesotans see and want solved.
I started the day with the National Day of Reason event in the Capitol. Some of the items supported by this group include: separation of state and religion, reason and evidenced-based policy, pluralism and equity in the democratic process, and secular government as designed by our Constitution.
Professor David Schultz of Hamline University addressed the group and talked about lawmakers that make decisions based on belief rather than evidence. My take is that this type of behavior creates problems and tends to be divisive.
On our first day back from our break, we started with the Education Omnibus Bill, House File 2400. The bill was introduced around 11:00 A.M. and we voted on the bill at 9:49 P.M.
The bill has a host of good things to help improve outcomes for our students and our education system. One item is that the formula will get 3 percent in the first year and 2 percent the second year. The three percent is the highest amount I have seen since I have been in the legislature. It won’t totally solve the financial predicament that most school districts are in but it will provide additional help. There is also money to help minimize the impact of cross-subsidies, a major issue for school districts.
It is essential that we provide the best education possible for our students. One reason is to enable them to reach their potential. The second is so that our businesses have the talent to compete in a world economy.
I attended the MN House Higher Education Committee Hearing on Wednesday afternoon. Officials from the Office of Higher Education provided background on the closing of Argosy University. Testimony was heard from students and teachers from Argosy. Most of the students were close to graduation and were making plans to do their clinical work, so the emotion and frustration was very evident. Some people from other institutions provided information and offered assistance.
It seems there are a several irregularities involved with the closing of the school, so there should be actions taken to deal with those. In the meantime, the legislature and the state are taking what steps they can to bring some relief to those that have been impacted by the closing. There is action that should be taken by the Federal Government and we don’t have that information available yet.
House File 288, my bill that prevents health plan companies from removing coverage of a particular brand of insulin or equipment and supplies during the contract year was heard in the Commerce Committee today. Insulin users need to have the appropriate medication, unplanned changes can cause serious problems. A few other bills regarding insulin were also on the agenda. This worked out well because it was also lobby day for the American Diabetes Association, so there were a number of people who were able to testify on behalf of the legislation.
In the evening, the House Transportation Committee held a hearing at the Savage City Hall, the Council Chamber was filled. While a number of testifiers talked about road improvements, the Dan Patch legislation probably generated the more animated discussion.
The Savage City Council Chamber is an extremely attractive room and the focus is Dan Patch. That and the artwork on the outside of the City Hall are worth a special trip to see.
We had several interesting presentations this afternoon in the Transportation Committee. Two were on funding strategies that have taken place in Georgia. Representative Kevin Tanner, the chairman of the Transportation Committee in the Georgia House of Representatives, went into detail on the funding of a comprehensive transportation system. Of particular importance was HB 170, legislation that went into effect on July 1, 2015. This will generate over $900 million in new annual funding. It includes excise tax on fuels, truck fees, and a $5 hotel/motel fee. Representative Tanner said he receives the most complaints on the hotel fee. His advice was that it is important “To do it together.”
John Robert Smith of Transportation for America gave an overview of transportation funding strategies of other states. He had visited a number of communities in Minnesota this past fall and talked about what he learned from those visits. For more information, go to www.T4America.org
Election Day 2018 concluded with a number of pleasant surprises. I am definitely ecstatic that I will be returning to the Minnesota House of Representatives to represent District 51A. An added bonus is that my caucus will be in the majority, so I am counting on a legislature that will be more responsive to the issues of people.
I am so grateful to my family, friends, members of my Senate District, and everyone that made this great outcome possible. I am in awe of the time and energy that some people put into campaigning.
It has been particularly encouraging to see so many new people involved in the campaign process. We know that the future Minnesota and the nation is really at stake.
My sincere appreciation to all that participated in the election process.
Last Thursday, I attended the 101st Annual Meeting of the Dakota County Farm Bureau. The evening included reports on many of the activities that took place this past year as well as election of officers .
Their guest speaker was Janet Bremer, a woman who grew up on a dairy farm and also married a dairy farmer. She talked about her experiences living on a dairy farm and was very passionate about the many attributes of living on a farm. She encouraged others to share their stories about living on a farm. Ms. Bremer is the MN Dairy Princess Coordinator and writes a blog called “My Barnyard View.” She also is the America’s Farmers Midwest Farm Mom of the Year.
Another highlight was hearing about the David Bailly Family and the Alexis Bailly Vineyard. That family was recognized as the Dakota County 2018 Farm Family of the Year. Nan Bailly received the award and provided an interesting history on how her father and his family created the vineyard.
It was a fun and educational event.
Saturday was a perfect day for a parade!
Thanks to all who participated in this event.
It is a fairly lengthy route, but everyone seemed to be in good spirits. I definitely noticed that the children had bags chock full of treats that were distributed by the parade units.
I was at the India Fest this afternoon. It is a huge celebration that takes place on the State Capitol Grounds. lots of entertainment, food vendors, and activities for children. Many interesting booths, including the Sehgal Foundation,one where they tie turbans, as well as clothing non-profits, and sports organizations.
Early in the afternoon, there was a parade that culminated in a ceremony on the southern portion of the lawn. There was a flag-hoisting, singing of the American and Indian national anthems, and speeches. American is the considered the oldest democracy and India the largest.
The event runs from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.