On Friday, I had the opportunity to visit the afternoon Pre-K class at Westview Elementary in Apple Valley along with Governor Dayton, Commissioner Cassellius, other education officials and legislators. It is so amazing to see how much these early learners have already accomplished and how quick they are to adjust to something new. Governor Dayton did a great job of interacting with the students, and that was sometimes a challenge because there were also three new little chicks in the room that got a lot of attention.
After watching the children in class, the adults went to another to discuss the program. Superintendent Berenz talked about the way School District #196 is trying to ensure that children will be prepared for kindergarten. One of the teachers mentioned how much progress some of the children had made since the beginning of the year. A kindergarten teacher said that the children who had been in the program previously come into kindergarten with more confidence and learning skills. A mother commented that even though she thought she had prepared her child with basic knowledge, she noticed the improvement in social skills and leadership ability. The principal said the students and their families become a community. The visit allowed us to see some of the remarkable experiences children have in our public schools. Shouldn’t all children who would benefit from this training be eligible?
Due to the late date in setting final targets, many thought it would not be possible to finish on time. As it was, there would be no comprehensive Transportation Bill or Tax Bill this year.
We were told the Jobs and Energy Conference Committee Bill would make it to the Floor of the House before we had to adjourn at midnight. The Senate was to send it over as soon as they finished with it. As it happened, the bill showed up just a few minutes before our mandated adjournment. Then the manner in which the Speaker tried to get it passed through before midnight resulted in confusion and chaos.
Prior to the chaotic ending, the Republican Majority failed to arrive at a compromise with the Governor on the Education Bill, so he vetoed it as he promised, and there will be a Special Session. So the dramatic ending was in vain.
We came into Session around 11:00 this morning and have spent most of the day voting on Conference Committee Reports. The first one, the Environmental and Agricultural Conference Report, took a few hours. One of the more controversial portions of the bill is the fact that funds created to help with long-term oversight of landfills are being emptied. This is concerning because Dakota County has numerous landfills. Some contaminants in landfills can be dangerous to people, animals, and the environment, so it is essential to monitor the landfills. A letter from the Dakota County Board states ” Depleting the funds now could leave the State and local governments dangerously unprepared to safeguard the environment.” I voted no, but the bill did pass. This is one the shifts that the Republican Majority consistently used in their Omnibus bills this year. Money is taken from account and then used to pay for something else. Given the fact that there is still a budget surplus, it makes such actions hard to justify.
The Republican Majority gave up on a comprehensive Transportation Bill, so we passed a “Lights On” version. Highly unusual, particularly when this was to be the Transportation Year.
At 10:35 P.M., we are starting the Legacy Conference Report.
” We also heard the State Government Conference Report.
The Eagan Police Department held a community celebration in recognition of their 5oth Anniversary on May 14th. There was a formal program, exhibits, activities as well as an Open House at the Police Department. It was nice to see so many of our retired and former members.
On May 14, the Minnesota House of Representatives honored Justice Alan Page for his many years of distinguished service to the people of Minnesota. In addition to his fame as a Minnesota Viking, he made history be being elected to the Supreme Court in 1992 and will be retiring from that position this summer.
Like the winds of the seas are the ways of fate;
As the voyage along thru life;
“Tis the will of the soul
That decides its goal,
And not the calm or the strife.
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
The 2015 Session isn’t even finished and the political fliers are already arriving in homes in House District 51A. The three I have seen were sent be Minnesota Jobs Coalition. This is the organization that flooded the district last year with their distorted and disturbing literature. The fliers this year are about actions that I might take, not that I have taken. How weird is that? Usually if you saw someone with a camera at my Town Hall Meetings or parades, that was their tracker. The House Republicans were obviously impressed with the work of this organization because they hired the former leader of the Jobs Coalition to be executive director of the House Republican Caucus this year. Interesting article about this on front page of the Star Tribune on May 5th.
The main problem is that this group doesn’t fall under Campaign Finance regulations and is not even required to list their contributors. So they are able to get their publicity out and not have the restrictions that officials and others who do report to Campaign Finance have to follow. Representative Winkler has offered a bill to correct this, but the Republican Majority has blocked this each time.
The House Republican Majority is also supporting legislation that will entirely do away with restrictions on contributions. This is about big money impacting our government and elections. A danger to our democratic form of government.
Enjoyed the Burnsville Robotics Year-End Banquet at Burnsville High School. They did a great job this year and had a lot to celebrate. I was particularly impressed that each team member, students and adults alike, was recognized for a particular trait or action that contributed to the team’s efforts.
I attended a very entertaining performance on Sunday afternoon at the Minnesota History Center. It was about a famous musical family with a Minnesota connection. It was created by Dan Chouinard, Jeff Raz, and Jordan Sramek.
“Singing for Freedom” is a story about the Hutchinson Family Singers, a group from New Hampshire. This family sang songs that advocated for the abolishment of slavery. They even performed at the White House for President Tyler, who happened to be a slave holder. After that experience, they decided their songs needed to be more aggressive. In 1855, three of the brothers invested in land in Minnesota and founded Hutchinson, Minnesota. The Rose Ensemble, Maria Jette, T. Mychael Rambo and Dan Chouinard did a marvelous job in presenting the story and the songs that were sung in the mid-1800’s.
I attended a program titled Navigating the Northwest Passage & Activating Political Will this morning. First, David Thorson gave a presentation about his trips through the Northwest Passage, an all-water passage that links Europe to the Orient. In 1994, they finally abandoned the trip when the ice make sailing impossible. The trip a few years ago was successful and there was virtually no ice. He has some great photos of the voyage.
Joseph Robertson of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby then talked about a policy advocating a Carbon Fee and Dividend. “This is a policy proposal to internalize the costs of burning carbon-base fuels.” He said this policy ultimately reduces emissions and stimulates the economy. British Columbia has this policy and managed to avoid the recession that most of us went through. For more details, please see: citizensclimatelobby.org
They will be doing this program tonight at 6:30-8:30 at the Student Center Theater on the UMN St. Paul Campus, 2017 Buford Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55108.