Thursday, December 28, 2006

Week of December 24, 2006

I was out of town from December 21 to 28 on the east coast visiting family.

On Thursday evening, I attended a DFL event in St. Paul. I had the opportunity to meet with some of my colleagues as well as an assortment of lobbyists. Some were from larger lobbying firms and represented specific clients, while others were employees of associations. Most pledged to visit me in my office during the session, while two discussed a specific issue--electronic waste recycling.

Committee assignments: On Friday (Dec. 22), I got my committee assignments. They include Environmental Policy, Environmental Policy, Energy Policy & Finance, and the Minnesota Heritage Finance Committee. I am even the vice-chair of the latter committee, which deals with the arts, cultural resources, etc. I am happy to be able to contribute expertise in the environmental and energy fields.

Constituents contacting me: Lino Lakes resident about a bill/law that allows residents to have a flagpole despite a residential covenant prohibiting it; Lino Lakes resident asking for property tax relief; Shoreview resident inviting me to an early childhood education event in the Mounds View School District

Non-constituent individuals contacting me: A Minneapolis attorney requesting "significant changes in family laws to limit the discretionary powers of the judiciary"; Eagan resident on requiring ignition interlock systems for repeat DWI offenders (his information says that there were 202,508 DWI arrests in MN in 2005?! Wow!); Eagan resident promoting instant runoff voting

Letters of introduction/newsletters sent: Lobbyist from Lindquist & Vennum, a lobbying firm; MN Association of Townships about its legislative priorities, including annexation; Lutheran Social Service; Pioneer Public Television about its television program "Your Legislators"; incoming House Tax Committee Chair Lenczewski asking me to meet about thoughts and concerns related to taxes; MN Conservation Corps; MN State University Student Association; Planned Parenthood of MN; Ramsey County Attorney; Dorsey & Whitney (a law firm); Coalition of MN Businesses; Lockridge Grindal Nauen (a lobbying firm); Great River Energy; U of M Department of Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies; MN Nurses Association; MN Automobile Dealers Association; MN Fraternal Order of Police; MN Government Engineers Council; Hubert Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs; MAPS Medical Pain Clinics promoting a proposal to create "interconnected Controlled Substances Monitoring Programs";

Invitation to events: University of MN about unveiling of schmatic plans of new Gopher stadium; MN Attorney General-Elect Swanson to inaugural ceremony; MN Women's Consortium; Anoka County for its annual legislative meeting

Monday, December 18, 2006

Week of December 17, 2006

On Monday morning, I and other legislators from the 4th Congressional District met with Congresswoman Betty McCollum in St. Paul.

On Tuesday morning, I and several other legislators met with Centennial School District board members, the superintendent, several school principals, and members of the Centennial Legislative Action Committee.

In the afternoon, I met the Governor along with about 20 other legislators for a brief get-acquainted meeting at the Governor's mansion in St. Paul. I also met later with the Mayor of St. Paul to discuss areas of common interest. Mayor Coleman's staff and I will keep in touch about the Central Corridor and how that will connect with the Rush Line Corridor.

On Wednesday, I met with more people than I was planning on at the MN Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) about an upcoming "reinvigorating recycling" campaign. (I guess more people show up when you get elected!)

Letters of introduction/newsletters sent: MN Utility Investors; Council of State Governments Midwestern Legislative Conference; MN Taxpayers Association; Proper Economic Resource Management (PERM--apparently an advocacy group for outdoor advocates); MN Budget Project, an initiative of the MN Council of Nonprofits; Project for Pride in Living; MN DFL Education Foundation; MN Manufacturers' Coalition; Parents United for Public Schools

Request for a meeting or inviting to event: Minnesota State University Student Association; Senior Services Focus Group of the White Bear Lake School District; House DFL Majority Caucus

Lobbyists: Lloyd Grooms left a message and I returned it

Monday, December 11, 2006

Week of December 10, 2006

On Monday I attended a luncheon with several new state representatives and senators at the Minnesota AFL-CIO for a briefing on labor issues.

On Tuesday, I was on Minnesota Public Radio's Mid-Morning program to talk about recycling. Sorry, no politics or legislative business on this show! You can listen to it after the fact at at this link. On Tuesday evening, I appeared before the Circle Pines City Council to hear their priorities for the 2007 session. Among those priorities were the fiscal disparities program, local government aid, and street funds.

On Tuesday I was assigned my office space. I'll be in Room 581 in the State Office Building at 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. in St. Paul.

On Wednesday morning, I visited the Centennial School District Early Childhood Family Education program, or ECFE, located at Lino Lakes City Hall. Roughly 250 kids participate in programs that include preparation for kindergarten. There is a waiting list to get in the program, which was cut by 20% in 2003.

During the noon hour I spoke briefly about recycling initiatives at the Solid Waste Management Coordinating Board in St. Paul.

In the evening, I attended a meeting of the North Metro Mayors Association in Mounds View, where a major topic of interest is reform of the local government aid (LGA) system. Afterwards, I attended a meeting of Taxpayers for an Anoka County Stadium Referendum (TAACSR) in Blaine.

On Wednesday I received a congratulatory letter from the Governor, in addition to a confirmation of the recount results that were certified by the Board of Canvassers on Monday.

On Thursday morning, I visited St. Paul Radiology in Arden Hills, which is an ambulatory imaging center. They do MRIs, ultrasounds, and so on. I was invited by the MN Ambulatory Health Care Consortium. Later in the day I spoke to the Association of Recycling Managers, a group of city and county recycling professionals.

On Friday, I spoke to several current legislators about some recycling and composting proposals, and otherwise sought advice on the legislative process. North Metro 15 (Anoka County cable TV) interviewed me for an upcoming segment.

Constituent contacts: Circle Pines resident asking for support on a dedicated sales tax amendment for conservation; Lino Lakes resident asking about water quality/lake issues; North Oaks resident proposing a recycling idea

Non-constituent individuals asking for support for initiatives: Park Rapids resident asking me not to support a smoking ban other than in restaurants; out of district resident asking for support of legalization of medical marijuana; out of district resident asking for support of a statewide smoking ban; Minneapolis resident opposing smoking ban

Letters of introduction sent: National Conference of State Legislatures; Chief Information Officers for the State of MN; President of Century College; PACE/Minnesota (a lobbying firm); Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America; MN Elementary School Principals' Association; MN Catholic Conference; Commissioner Clark Dyrud of the Department of Veterans Affairs; MN School Boards Association

Organizations inviting me to events: Senator Betzold inviting to a meeting with the City of Blaine along with other legislators representing parts of that city; Sexuality Education for Life-Minnesota; DFL Progressive Caucus; St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce; MN Association of Christian Schools

Agency correspondence: MN Board of Architecture, Engineering, Land Surveying, Landscape Architecture, Geoscience & Interior Design on proposed rule changes

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Week of December 3, 2006

On Tuesday, I attended a luncheon for Grow Minnesota, a program of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce. Key issues for businesses around the state include transportation, workforce development, and taxes.

On Wednesday, I attended an information session by P.S. Minnesota, an education advocacy group. The group is suggesting a new need-based funding formula.

Ramsey County Commissioner Bennett sent me some information on the Rice Street Bridge project.

Constituent contacts: Shoreview resident about 2006 bill to allow homeowners to recover legal costs related to settling with a builder on warranty work; three North Oaks residents about leaking landfill in White Bear Township that has contaminated several wells; Shoreview resident about proposed DNR restrictions on treating invasive species; Shoreview resident about bike trail maintenance in the state

Letters of introduction sent from: National Alliance on Mental Illness of MN (NAMI); Office of the Adjutant General, Department of Military Affairs, Minnesota National Guard; MN Business Partnership; Coalition of MN Businesses; MN Legislative Reference Library; MN Grocers Association; MN Farmers Union; Qwest; Gray, Plant, Mooty, Mooty & Bennett P.A. (a lobbying firm); MN Board on Aging; MN Licensed Beverage Association; Schools for Equity in Education; Messerli & Kramer (a lobbying firm); Midwest Health Center for Women; MN Seasonal Recreational Property Owners Coalition (which informs me that there are 992 cabin owners in district 53A; MN Nursery & Landscape Association; Care Providers of MN; Fresh Energy

Organizations inviting me to events: North Metro 15 (Anoka County cable TV); Shoreview Economic Development Commission; St. Paul Trades & Labor Assembly of AFL-CIO; MN Environmental Partnership; MN State University-Mankato; MN Partnership for Biotechnology and Medical Genomics

Monday, November 27, 2006

Week of November 27, 2006

The recount has been completed, and the Gardner campaign is the winner! The final vote margin was three to four votes. (There is a little haggling over that last ballot.) The Board of Canvassers will certify the election on December 11th!

The recount process is interesting, if not a little tedious, to watch. There were five tables set up in the basement cafeteria of the State Office Building. At each table are two people from from the Secretary of State's office and one person each representing the two candidates. Ballots are separated into several piles, including one each for ballots where a voter cast a vote for either Phil Krinkie or me, one for blank ballots (e.g., where the voter did not vote for the House race but voted for other offices), and write-ins. The candidates' representatives may contest a ballot if something looks awry.

On Monday morning, I attended an orientation for incoming legislators on Anoka County's activities at the county government center in Anoka. Several county government division heads made short presentations, and all but two of the county's commissioners were in attendance. Obviously a Vikings stadium proposal in Blaine appears to be dead, but among the priority needs cited by county staff and commissioners were unfunded mandates from the state (such as county incarceration of state offenders) and transportation.

On Tuesday afternoon, I met with James McCormick, Chancellor of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities along with MnSCU's Director of Government Relations, Jerry Janezich, who had been a State Senator. They showed me how many MnSCU students are from district 53A. The number was 1,995! That includes 755 Century College students and 303 at Anoka-Ramsey Community College.

On Wednesday through Friday, I attended an orientation for freshmen legislators in Chaska. It was very tiring, as it went from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.! Saturday was a caucus retreat.

Constituent contacts:: Shoreview resident concerned that the legislature will spend all the projected surplus and make government bigger; North Oaks resident wants mental health to have parity with other medical services; Lino Lakes resident wanting all credit bureaus to accept payment by credit card when asking to freeze their credit report

Letters of introduction sent from: Minnesota Board of Dentistry; and the founder of Minnesotans for Marriage (no return address, web site, or other information listed in the card); AAA Clubs of Minnesota; Chicano Latino Affairs Council; Metropolitan State University; MN Board of Public Defense; Prairie Island Indian Community; University of MN Extension Service (Regional Center, Andover); Centerpoint Elementary School in White Bear Lake (serves students from 53A in Lino Lakes); Delta Dental; Anoka Co Integrated Waste Management Department; MN Organization on Adolescent Pregnancy, Prevention and Parenting; MN Credit Union Network; University of MN Extension Service-Dean's Office, Leadership and Civic Engagement program, and Urban Operations program; MN State Fire Chiefs Association; Concerned Citizens of MN (affiliated with The John Birch Society); International Union of Operating Engineers (Local 49); Anoka County Commissioner Rhonda Sivarajah; Arc of MN; Cook Hill Girard Associates Ltd (a lobbying firm); MN Catholic Conference; Alliance for Student Achievement; MN Nurses Association

The MN State Board of Public Defense gets the wasteful mailing award! This office sent a 56 page agency overview that was printed on one side of the paper and which included about 100 words on a page. Could have been done on about 15 pages.

Organizations seeking a meeting or inviting me to an event: Office of Governor Pawlenty; Congresswoman Betty McCollum; Minnesota Chamber of Commerce; Mounds View School District; City of Shoreview for December 8th Shoreview Business Exchange; St. Paul Area Trades & Labor Assembly (AFL-CIO); Municipal Legislative Commission; Association of Metropolitan School Districts; Homes for All/MN Housing Partnership; TakeAction Minnesota; Gregg E. Johnson, Chief Judge of MN's Second District Court, St. Paul

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Week of November 20, 2006

The recount for House District 53A will be Monday, November 27th at 9:00 a.m. at the State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, St. Paul. I'm told that the process could take about one and a half days, with a lot of procedure to be laid out in the first two hours or so.

On Tuesday, I met with Jan Witthuhn, Superintendent, Mounds View School District to discuss education issues. Top issues include the increasing cost of health care, the need to adjust the state's funding formula to accommodate districts with declining enrollment, and testing requirements.

On Wednesday, I met with Ramsey County Commissioner Tony Bennett and two Ramsey County employees about the county's 2007 legislative platform.

Letters of introduction sent from: Lutheran Social Services; The Art Institutes International Minnesota; Minnesota Utility Investors; Larkin Hoffman Daly & Lindgren Ltd (a lobbying firm); Agricultural Utilization Research Institute; Ramsey County Commissioners Jan Parker & Victoria Reinhardt; Politics in Minnesota; Minnesota Zoo

Organizations seeking a meeting or inviting me to an event: Waste Management; P.S. (Public Schools) Minnesota; Mayor of Circle Pines; St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce; Sexual Abuse Prevention Network; Coalition of Greater MN Cities; Lockridge Grindal Nauen on behalf of St. Paul Radiology Roseville/Arden Hills; Catholic Charities; Friends of MnSCU; League of Women Voters for North Oaks, White Bear Lake, and Maplewood

Organizations meeting with me or discussing issues on the phone or by e-mail: University of Minnesota Government Relations; American Plastics Council

Constituents contacting me: North Oaks residents briefing me about Highway 96 landfill, which has been leaking vinyl chloride from White Bear Township westward; Lino Lakes resident about a credit reporting bureau not accepting checks for credit reports.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Week of November 13, 2006

Right now I'm going through orientation, and I'm still working almost full-time at the Recycling Association of Minnesota until the end of the year, so there won't be a whole lot going on yet.

Last week was the election, when I won by 55 votes! A recount is required but it has not been scheduled.

This week I met with the Shoreview City Manager to get briefed on legislative issues that affect the city and its residents. Those issues include transportation funding and property tax rates.

I attended a meeting for the Rush Line Corridor, which is a transit corridor that would run from the Union Depot in St. Paul up Highway 61 and Interstate 35 to Hinkley.

Friday included freshman orientation for incoming House members from both parties. I have a new e-mail at but no phone or office until swearing-in on January 3rd.

Letters/calls of introduction received: North Metro Chamber of Commerce; MN Teamsters; Tubman Family Alliance; St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce; MN Attorney General-elect; MN Transportation Alliance; Office of the Legislative Auditor; MN Bankers Association; U of M's Initiative for Renewable Energy & the Environment; MN Pipe Trades Association; Rep. Betty McCollum; National Association of Industrial & Office Properties-MN Chapter; Fresh Energy; AFSCME Local 65; MN Licensed Beverage Association/MN Municipal Beverage Association; Planned Parenthood; American Cancer Society-MN Chapter; Association of Metropolitan School Districts; MN Cable Communications Association; Care Providers of MN; MN Health & Housing Alliance; Xcel Energy; MN Credit Union Network; MN Association of Realtors

Requests for meetings or attendance at events: Ramsey County Commissioner Tony Bennett; Anoka County (several commissioners and departments); Mounds View School District; City of Lexington; City of Circle Pines; MN Farm Bureau Federation; MN Association of Townships; Education Minnesota; University of Minnesota-Government Relations; MN AFL-CIO; P.S. (Public Schools) Minnesota; MN Taxpayers Association; MN State Colleges & Universities-Chancellor's Office; Ramsey County Community Human Services Citizens Advisory Council; MN State Senator for Growth & Justice event for legislators; Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet

Constituents or organizations in district calling/writing/e-mailing about issues: local volunteer for MN Senior Federation on property taxes; Centennial School District Early Childhood Program on early childhood programs