PAIN.PILL. PROBLEM.- Moving Minnesota Forward Together

I attended a program at the University of Minnesota today that presented information on  the abuse of prescription pain killers.  One speaker said the problem is epidemic.  The event was an extensive collaborative effort that included the University of Minnesota, the Minnesota Department of Human Services, the Hazeleden Betty Ford Institute for Recovery Advocacy, the U.S. Department of Justice, and others.

Some startling statistics that were brought out by the Law Enforcement Panel were that 1 in 4 teens uses illicit drugs and that pain pills kill more than heroin and some other drugs. Many of the abusers get the pills from families and friends.  The panelists suggested that drug counselors should be in schools.  Demand is the problem, thus it is a public health problem.

The Pharmacy and Distribution Panel also said this is a community problem.  People need to speak out when they see the abuse happening.

Patrice Salmeri is involved with providing support on college campuses, she said ” Nobody should have to choose between recovery and a college education.”  The problem on college campuses had been brought up several times during the day.

Commissioner Jesson closed by saying that there are opportunities to get involved and encouraged everyone to do so.

This program went from 8:00 to 5:00, so I have only given some of the highlights. For additional information, check out




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Next Generation National Network Kick-off

The National Institute for Civil Discourse  was founded after the attempted assassination of  Congresswoman Giffords  and is based at the University of Arizona.  Next Generation is a program under the auspices of NICD that will focus on state legislators and provide them with resources and skills to resolve their differences in a civil manner.  The launch for the Next Generation National Network took place on August 2.

It was a privilege to be part of the group and to work on plans that will help produce an environment that is conducive to good governance.  I am hopeful that this organization will provide the platform to encourage positive behavior  of all elected officials.

In the evening, former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly presented the inaugural Gabrielle Giffords Award for Civility in State Governance to Washington State Representatives Hans Zeiger and Sam Hunt.  Representative Hunt was part of the team that met with Minnesota legislators this past January in St. Paul to provide background on the civil discourse program. He mentioned the extreme weather conditions that day during his acceptance speech.

For more information on the National Institute for Civil Discourse and Next Generation, please visit the website:


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Celebrating July 4, 2015

July 4th was a perfect day for a parade.  I want to express my appreciation to all who took the time to participate and to observe this holiday.  Crowds were there from the beginning of the parade to the fireworks at the end.  And they were spectacular!

We have a number of photos to show – checks out the special guest hiding under the seats on the vehicle – towards the end… A stowaway???

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World Peace and Prayer Day

In a letter by Chief Arvol Looking Horse, he states that they will light their fire of 20 years. He will be observing World Peace Day in Ashland, Oregon.  He says “it feels as though humanity has gone too far” and “we would have to unite at our Sacred Sites once again to bring back healing. The future of our children’s health and wellbeing is dependent on our efforts. They need every person’s prayer from the Global Community.”

“We are sincerely asking prayers for the People that are spirtually disconnected who are making decisions that only last in their life time of survival for profit off Mother Earth. Mother Earth is the source of life not a resource. Many Sacred Sites have been abused and controlled by People who do not know Spirit.”

In keeping with the theme of recognizing the importance of nature, local residents tied into this observance at Schaar’s Bluff Spring Lake Park Reserve this afternoon. This site was chosen “to bring awareness to the fact that Legacy Funds were used to fragment forests and blast ancient bluffs, even though the Minnesota DNR recommended against the route because Dry Creek Bluff Prairie is on the verge of extirpation.”

Supporters of the event included: DUUC Food Freedom Radio, Interfaith Power and Light of Minnesota, Bioneers, Minnesota Pachamama Community, Alliance for Sustainability and AM950.

The concern is the damage being done to the Earth impacts us all and especially future generations. We need to question whether we are being good stewards of the gifts we have been given.

“Holy Mother Earth, the trees and all nature, are witnesses of your thoughts and deeds.”

A Winnebago wise saying found in Touch The Earth, compiled by T.C. McLuhan.


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Sixth Grade Perspective On Legislation

I have been receiving letters from sixth grade students at Sioux Trail School on legislation that they would like to see enacted.  Their main topics were: prohibiting smoking around children and in parks, helping the homeless, and lots on distracted driving behaviors. Another idea was to make it illegal to drop cigarette butts around trails and in parks. Yet another wants more containers for plastic bags available so there wouldn’t be so much litter.

As a follow-up, I had the privilege of meeting with the students at their school this morning.  I asked how many of them did see people smoking in parks and I was shocked when most of the students raised their hands.  I guess we still have a lot of educating to do with adults. It certainly seems like sixth graders understand the problems caused by second-hand smoke.   It is impressive to receive the letters and see how aware these young people are about the environment in which they live.

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Westview Pre-K

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?


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Last Day of Session Ending

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.


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May 18-Last Day of Session

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.




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Eagan Police 50th Anniversary

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.

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Justice Alan Page

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.

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