I saw the performance of “Mercy Killers” this afternoon. It is a very emotional story of a man who relates all that happened when his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. That would be a traumatic situation in itself, but the strain is incredible when the family is faced with incredible financial issues. The play was written and performed by Michael Milligan. He does an outstanding job in both categories. Afterwards he gave some background on how he came to write the play. Mr. Milligan said that we have the statistics and data on what happens in these instances, but this is to portray the ‘psychological damage to our national psyche” as a result of our current access to health care. There is a benefit performance at the Chanhassen Dinner Theater on Thursday. I highly recommend this.
Recently I was listening to an interview on the radio in which Lauren Stringer was talking about a book she had written for children. When I heard the title, When Stravinsky Met Nijinsky, I was totally captivated. I bought the book and highly recommend it. It is a delightful story about the collaboration of the two artists on The Rite of Spring. The illustrations are very colorful and imaginative.
Former Senator Olympia Snowe gave the Keynote Address at the womenwinning Annual Luncheon on June 3rd. There were about 1200 people at the event, including Governor Mark Dayton and Speaker Paul Thisssen. U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar introduced the former senator as being her mentor when she first went to the United States Senate.
Senator Snowe is a very charming woman who articulated the need for people to work together in order to accomplish the work that needs to be done. She talked about some of the ways women in Congress banded together to make changes, like finding out that research regarding heart problems only tracked men until the women legislators said that women in this country also have heart problems and the surveys should relate to them as well. She has written a book, Fighting For Common Ground, to help promote the concept of “compromise”, a necessity if our country is going overcome the current polarization that plagues our legislative process.
Senator Snowe had lost both her parents by the age of nine. She was a young wife when her husband was killed in an auto accident. He was serving in the state legislature at the time. She was asked to run for his seat, she did, and the rest is history. In spite of these hardships, she obviously had incredible resiliency because she has had a remarkable career to date and it looks like she has a lot planned for the future.
Memorial Day is a day to honor those who have given their lives in service to our nation. It is a time to offer our respect and gratitude to those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Perhaps the debt can never be repaid, but we can remember the sacrifice that they made for us and for the United States of America.
My gratitude to the families who lost their loved ones and have to cope with life without them. You, too, have paid a high price for the liberty and security we enjoy.
In a time when so many of our military are serving in dangerous environments, thoughts also go out to them for the sacrifice that they are making on our behalf.
We are truly fortunate to live in ”the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
Just watched the National Memorial Day Concert from Washington, D.C. on Public
Television, the program has some extremely moving portions. One is a discussion between two brothers who both were in the military and the impact on both of them. One of the brothers and the family of the other were in the audience. There is a tribute to actor Charles Durning, a veteran of World War II, who died recently. It includes a speech he once gave about his recollections of the Battle of the Bulge as well as entering one of the concentration camps. In addition, there is marvelous music.
The program is being shown again. Watch it if you can. It truly exhibits what Memorial Day is all about.
This is the last day of session and it has been a busy one so far. I’ll point out some of the highlights, but contact me if there is a particular item of interest to you.
First,we have had a lot of people at the Capitol for the past few days advocating on both sides of Senate File 778. This bill authorizes the Bureau of Mediation Services to conduct two separate elections to determine if certain providers want to be represented by a union, it is geared for home-based child care providers and home health care providers or PCA’s. The final vote was 68-66. This issue gained attention when Governor Dayton tried to do this by Executive Order. A judge ruled that the governor did not have this power, it resided with the legislature.
The Conference Committee Report for HF 1183, the Legacy bill, was passed 77-57. This covers a number of programs. For our area, there is a provision that gives the Metropolitan Council $6,300,000 to spend in regional parks for the protection and restoration of habitat for fish, wildlife and fowl.
We also passed the Conference Committee Report on S.F. 66, which relates to campaign finance. Amounts have been increased. One concern is that candidates need to have more influence over messaging during campaigns. Independent organizations often spend more money and exert more influence on campaigns than do the candidates.
We passed the Conference Report for a scaled-down bonding bill. It includes funding for restoration on the Capitol, work that has been put off for way too long.
There is about an hour left of the day and we have to adjourn.
We worked through a number of bills today. House File 946, Medical Amnesty in Minnesota, is one that is particularly interesting because it was brought forward by students at the University of Minnesota. The bill provides that a minor is not subject to prosecution for underage drinking if they contact 911 to report that they or another person is in need of medical assistance for an immediate health or safety concern. The immunity may apply to one or two persons acting in concert if all requirements are met. The bill also provides immunity for the person receiving the medical assistance. The intent is to save lives.
We repassed H.F. 779, the conference committee report for the legislation dealing with Affordable Care Act conformity and establishing rules for the health insurance market to implement health reform.
Today is the culmination of an incredible journey. The House had passed H.F. 1540 last Thursday with a vote of 75-59. The Senate passed the bill yesterday 37-30. At 5:00 this afternoon, Governor Mark Dayton signed the marriage equality bill into law. The Governor signed the legislation on the front steps of the Capitol. He had the legislators and many other people behind him and thousands of people in front of him. Two of the speakers afterwards were the bill sponsors, Representative Karen Clark and Senator Scott Dibble.
It was a privilege to be part of this extraordinary event! There were so many people that worked so hard to make this happen. Minnesotans truly can taken pride in their efforts that brought us to this point.
H.F 459/S.F. 379, legislation that bans BPA in children’s food containers, was repassed. This is the conference committee report and it passed 115-13.
There were several bills that involved fairly lengthy discussion. Representative Mahoney had S.F. 1234 up, it relates to workers’ compensation. In addition to making various policy and housekeeping changes, it also provides for adoption of advisory council recommendations. This did pass.
Representative Lesch presented H.F. 694, a bill relating to debt management and debt settlement. It clarifies exemptions for attorneys at law and modified regulation of debt settlement services. That passed 126-1.
H.F. 683, a bill creating the Legislative Water Commission passed. This is Representative Fisher’s bill and it generated a lot of discussion. The author has White Bear Lake in his district, so he is heavily involved in water issues due to the decreasing amount of water in the lake.
Another controversial bill is H.F. 1183, the Legacy Bill. This legislation appropriates the constitutionally dedicated legacy funds. It passed 70-55, as amended.
The energy and noise levels at the Capitol were incredible today! The House of Representatives took up House File 1054, the Marriage Equality Bill, this afternoon and the Capital was packed with people on both sides of the issue. The author, Karen Clark led off with her history on this issue and summarized what the legislation is designed to do. Two amendments were quickly added to provide clarification. Over thirty members stood to explain the basis for their upcoming vote. The comments were extremely moving and very respectful. The final vote was 75-59. I am extremely proud of the way the House members handled this very sensitive topic. This legislation is a huge step forward for justice and equality.