2017 Legislative Session Begins

On January 3, the newly-elected legislators took their oath of office in the Minnesota State Capitol.  The Capitol has undergone extensive renovation and it is quite impressive.

On January 4, the legislators attended the One Minnesota Legislative Conference held at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.  The morning agenda included panels on health insurance and business priorities.  The afternoon was devoted to a workshop titled “Building Trust through Civil Discourse.”  It was offered through Next Generation, a program of the National Institute for Public Discourse.  The facilitators are legislators from other states.

On January 5th, the House met again and passed a tax conformity bill. Essentially , this makes the state tax form more compliant with the federal form.  It is important that this is done in a timely manner to ensure that people will have the appropriate forms when they start filing their taxes later this month.

Some committees met this week and the rest will start next week.

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Rev. Dr. William Barber II On The Election Outcome

I had the opportunity to hear Reverend Dr. William Barber II recently and was extremely impressed by his explanation of the election results last month. He said the outcome of the election happened because it is a repeat of history. He repeated that “America has resiliency” numerous times throughout his talk and said this is a fight against the third reconstruction.

In the beginning, he talked about leadership issues in the Bible and then went on to talk about the history of the United States, part of which described the Mississippi Plan of 1876. Reverend Barber emphasized that we must understand our history if we are going to make progress. Restoring the Voting Rights Act is essential!

He said that Hope has two children, Anger and Courage.

You can listen to his message here:

Rev. Barber’s video


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Celebrating Thanksgiving

While challenges and problems abound, it is helpful to take time to reflect on the blessings we have received.

“Look at the World” by John Rutter does a great job of that.  I love the refrain:

Praise to thee, O Lord of all creation. 

Give us thankful hearts that we may see

All the gifts we share and every blessing,

All things, come of thee.

Wishing you, your family and friends a great Thanksgiving.

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Raising kids is hard!

This article, by Pamela Druckerman was published on October 13, 2016 in the New York Times was [See link: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/14/opinion/the-perpetual-panic-of-american-parenthood.html]. It was titled The Perpetual Panic of American Parenthood.

Here is my reaction: Raising kids is difficult and that experience is shared among parents all over the world. But in the USA, and in American politics, the topic seems to get less traction, although in this election season it gets some attention.

Parents receive government supports of varying degrees to raise their kids, but that support in the USA is much lower than elsewhere, nearly non-existent.

The outcome of this is outlined in a study to be published in the American Journal of Sociology which finds that “Americans with children are 12 percent less happy than non-parents, the largest “happiness gap” of 22 rich countries surveyed.” That is, among 22 countries surveyed, American parents with children are the most unhappy by comparison to American who are not parents. This is a rebuke of the US culture and society values.

The author traveled and lived in other countries, and has some base to compare the issues involved in raising kids in those countries and in the USA. Other countries offer supports such as high-quality day case, after-school activities which allow kids to both socialize and for the parents to have time for themselves or to carry out needed chores without the kids underfoot. College costs are significantly less, in some cases the annual cost is less than the cost of a single week in an American college! American realities can be a shock to people from other countries, and in some cases shock them in a very real way.

The author tells of her own experience how the opposite effect was true fro her: Leaving the US created some palpable sense of relief insofar as motherhood was concerned.

The article also provides a bit of analysis and contrast of the approaches and solutions proposed by the two candidates for President.

Thank you, Pamela Druckman, for shining a light on this issue.

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The Memorial for Jacob Wetterling

The memorial for Jacob Wetterling was inspiring!  It truly showed that each life makes a difference.

In the search to find Jacob, there are so many children and families that have been helped.  Jacob’s life here may have been short, but he is extremely well-known  and has had a profound influence on all of us.

Jacob will always be connected with hope.  Patty and Jerry Wetterling are shining examples of  faith, love, determination, courage and grace. May God bless Patty and Jerry Wetterling, the Wetterling Family, and all those who were part of the the quest to find Jacob.

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Burnsville Fire Muster 2016

Today was perfect for a parade!  We had a great time in the Burnsville Fire Muster Parade.  Many thanks to all who participated in our unit.  My appreciation to all the spectators who lined the route and made this so much fun.  A special note of appreciation to the volunteers whose efforts make this event possible.

The booths and carnival are part of the the Fire Muster and continue on to Sunday.  I was impressed by the Boy Scouts that came to the various booths and said they would deliver the food from their booth. I highly recommend their corn on the cob.

The Burnsville Fire Muster has been a community tradition for decades.

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Governor’s SWLRT Discussion

I attended the Governor’s SWLRT Discussion today in St. Paul, the room was packed.  Initially, an overview of the process and current statistics was presented,  The problem is that there is currently a need for $144.5 million and a decision needs to be made before August 31. Two options were given.  One option has local governments and agencies providing the money.  Option 2 is to shut down the project.

There were numerous comments, pro and con, afterwards.  Most of the comments wanted the Southwest Light Rail project to proceed.  Most opponents seemed mainly concerned about the cost of the project. The primary exception is the group that has the lawsuit against the project.  The issue is the environmental damage and the lawsuit is scheduled to be heard in September 2017.

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What Does Minnesota Need To Be Healthy?

On Thursday, August 18, the Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Health was in Dakota County to talk about ways to improve the health of the people in Dakota County as well as in Minnesota.  He talked about the improvements of health is some areas and virtually the lack in some areas. Dr. Ehlinger related the improvement in childbirth statistics once women had the right to vote. He emphasized the concept of health equity and the importance of including health in all policies.

He said he once talked with Governor Anderson about the major achievements that took place during his administration.  The Governor attributed these achievements to Social Conscience, Investing in the Common Good, and Cooperation.  Attributes which seem to be lacking today.


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Bell Labs Coming To Eagan

Bell Labs celebrated its new location in Eagan on Monday.  Governor Dayton was among the officials present at the ceremony.  Since Bell Labs is taking over an existing building, their CEO, swung a sledgehammer into a wall to commemorate the construction that will take place to provide their new home.

For over twenty years, Bell Labs has been a Minnesota-based contract manufacturer for the health and beauty industry.  In addition to having more space, Bell Labs plans to hire 100 more people as part of their expansion. Good news for our economy!


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Wendy Davis in Eagan

Wendy Davis addressed a group in Eagan yesterday. As a Texas state senator, she received a lot of attention when she did an 11-hour filibuster protesting legislation that would restrict abortion access for women. The Supreme Court recently confirmed that the state law was unconstitutional.

Ms. Davis initially talked about her life and the problems she faced and overcame. She also shared why she holds Hillary Clinton in high regard and that she was a strong supporter during the first presidential campaign and continues that enthusiasm this time around,

She is very warm and articulate. She is quite passionate about the need to have more women in leadership positions and as role models. I think many look on Wendy Davis as a modern day hero.



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