Sunday, February 25, 2007

Week of February 25, 2007

Sen. Rummel and I held a well-attended town hall meeting on Saturday March 3rd. I will sum up the issues raised in the next entry.

Blog Viewers: I now have some web statistics on blog readers starting with last Sunday. Strangely, out of 89 unique visitors during the week there were a few international visitors (one in Bangkok; three in China; one in Vanves, France; one in Mexico; one in Canada; and one in Canberra, Australia). The vast majority of the visitors were in the Twin Cities, but there was one each in Philadelphia, Milwaukee, and Ankeny (Iowa).

I thought the Pioneer Press editorial page did a very good job in Sunday's paper summarizing the issues related to a mileage tax. I agree with the concerns about the use of GPS devices in vehicles.

On Monday, I spent eight hours on the floor. Our first issue was the overwhelming adoption of the budget for the Legislative Citizens Commission on MN Resources (LCCMR). The LCCMR funding comes from lottery proceeds. The second major issue was approving the permanent rules of the House. These are the rules by which the House governs itself. I believe that about 27 amendments were introduced. Many of the amendments introduced had to do with per diem. I voted with the Republicans on the amendments that would force a vote on the floor on per diem since I believe in transparency. I also voted for an amendment (technically, I voted against re-referring it to the Rules Committee) that would require posting per diem information about members on the House web site. I also voted for Rep. Sviggum's amendment to ban former members from becoming registered lobbyists for a year. But I voted with most Democrats against amendments that were really meant to interfere with the smooth running of the House. After eight hours, the Majority Leader tabled the bill for consideration on Thursday.

After the House session, I did a phone interview with Air America Radio about HF457 (the scrap metal bill). Upon returning to my desk on the floor, I found that an inch-thick file of materials I had on the desk was gone! The pages had recycled it. Some of the staff from the Chief Clerk's office helped me find the file in a big recycling container in the hallway. (They said that this happens at least once a year.)

Just before the session, I met with Sen. Higgins about HF457 (she is the Senate author).

After session, I attended a public meeting in the City of North Oaks on the Highway 96 landfill situation. A city-funded consultant reviewed the case thoroughly and I spoke to the council briefly and to residents individually. That meeting ended at 10:00 p.m.

On Tuesday, I attended the Environmental Finance Committee (MPCA budget presentation) bright and early at 8:00 a.m., a committee caucus meeting, and the Environment & Natural Resources Committee. The last meeting included consideration of a ban of decabromodiphenylether, a suspected toxic compound found in flame retardants. The bill was tabled after almost two hours of sometimes conflicting testimony. I also taped a cable TV interview (you can hear the audio at

On Wednesday, I attended two committee caucuses and the DFL House caucus, and attended the Energy Policy & Finance Committee (biomass power plant feasibility study and an overview of energy rate "de-coupling").

On Thursday, I spoke to about twenty people at the MPCA's waste conference in Bloomington this morning about product stewardship and the legislature. (So I was excused from the Environmental Finance Committee this morning.) Then I attended a floor session that ran two and half hours on amendments to the proposed permanent house rules. In the afternoon, I attended the Environment & Natural Resources Committee, where we listened to testimony on a proposed Global Climate Change Mitigation Act. I also met with Sen. Higgins about HF457.

On Friday, a lot of meetings and committees were cancelled due to weather. However, we did have the Energy Policy & Finance Committee, where we voted on or considered several bills related to geothermal energy and school bonding for energy efficiency.

Constitent contacts: Lexington resident about voter registration issues and transportation funding proposals; North Oaks resident about Highway 96 landfill; Blaine resident disappointed about Twins stadium deal; Shoreview resident about veterans' issues; Shoreview resident against efforts to address climate change; Shoreview dentist about dentistry issues; Circle Pines about disabilities issues related to the Help America Vote Act; North Oaks resident against banning fishing in lakes that don't have public access; Shoreview resident against HF1058 that would give automated technologies law enforcement powers (e.g., cameras at traffic lights); Lino Lakes resident on public employee issues; Shoreview resident against legislative interference in decisions of the MN High School League; Circle Pines resident about physical therapy issues; Shoreview resident supporting domestic partner benefits for city employees; Shoreview resident supporting the smoking ban; two Shoreview residents supporting clean car campaign; Blaine resident and North Oaks resident supporting Wine with Dinner; Shoreview resident against higher taxes; Blaine resident against a Vikings stadium; Circle Pines resident supporting childrens' health care; Lino Lakes resident and Lexington resident supporting rights for residents of manufactured homes; North Oaks resident supporting tough sex offender law (Adam Walsh Child Protection Act); two local school superintendents responding to my inquiry about a statewide health care pool proposal; Lino Lakes resident supporting a card club and other gambling at Columbus Township harness racing track before the track opens; City of Blaine seeking exemption to sales tax for cities; Shoreview resident supporting more affordable housing; Circle Pines resident recommending someone for the U of M Board of Regents; Shoreview resident against benefits for immigrants; Lexington resident on need for health care access; five residents of Circle Pines and Shoreview supporting HF 863 (clean car standards); four residents of Shoreview and Lino Lakes in favor of Climate Change Mitigation Act; North Oaks resident about Highway 96 landfill; Lino Lakes resident about problem with Department of Revenue; Lino Lakes resident supporting HF1249 to help seniors with tax credits for electronic equipment; Circle Pines nurse seeking appointment; Lino Lakes resident supporting HF1602 (inequities in teacher retirement); Shoreview resident supporting funding for the arts

Non-constituent contacts: Minuteman Civil Defense Corps of MN on illegal immigration; New London bait business owner against proposed aquaculture legislation; North Metro Mayors' Association supporting a transportation funding package; staff at Advocating Change Together about "remembering with dignity" bill (HF760); Shoreview resident (in another district) supporting a ban on PFOAs (chemical compounds found in groundwater in east metro) and supporting carbon tax to combat climate change; Becida resident against proposed bow hunting law changes; Rochester area resident supporting tougher laws on hunters who "shine" deer; Delano resident against SF1184 (modifications to game and fish bill); unidentified resident against smoking ban; unidentified resident against ECFE; Garfield resident against a bill on walleye fingerlings; Roseville resident against smoking ban; Duluth resident supporting mercury reduction bills; unidentified resident supporting universal health coverage; Henderson resident about charter schools; Arden Hills or New Brighton business owner against tax increases; Eden Prairie resident asking details on e-waste bill

Visitors: lobbyist for grocers concerned about theft of milk crates; a citizen advocate for MN immigrants along with four high school students supporting the MN Dream Act; teachers from Centennial and Mounds View about the Education MN legislative platform, including a statewide health insurance pool; division director of MPCA about Highway 96 landfill (by phone); lobbyist for Outfront MN about legislative platform; lobbyist for Hennepin County Sheriff's Department about HF457; AFSCME representatives for state prison employees (including a constituent); Lino Lakes resident lobbying on behalf of domestic violence issues; lobbyist for Sierra Club and Union of Concerned Scientists on proposed carbon trading legislation; several developmentally disabled constituents and their support staff supporting issues for the disabled; director and board member of Alexandra House, the only battered womens' shelter in Anoka County; Shoreview Public Works Director on local road engineering proposals; Institute for Agricultural & Trade Policy staff on flame retardants; lobbyist from Fredrikson & Byron representing the PPM? company in Oregon about community based energy development (CBED); representatives of youth diversion programs from Shoreview and White Bear Lake

Invitations: DFL Veterans' Caucus; City of North Oaks to presentation on consultant report on Highway 96 landfill; DFL Senate District 52 about a booth at the Forest Lake Home Show; Quality Construction Coalition on prevailing wage seminar; Climate Change Symposium to be given by libertarian speakers on 3/8/07; DFL Suburban Caucus; Conservation MN; National Day of Prayer; Attorney General Lori Swanson; Parks & Trails Council of MN; U of M Extension Service on program for "Are you Peddling Your Pickles Safely?" (really); Big Brothers-Big Sisters; Eyes Wide Open MN (anti-Iraq War group); Joint Religious Legislative Coalition; MN Corn Growers Association; Minnesota BioBusiness event promoting bioscience in MN; high school class at Centennial High School; Center for American Experience about medicaire reform; DFL Party event on history of the party; Planned Parenthood about its South Dakota referendum efforts

Information sent: League of Women Voters of White Bear Lake, North Oaks and Mahtomedi; City of Circle Pines supporting a comprehensive transportation package and an abolition of the sales tax for local governments; MN Telecom Alliance; Minnkota Power Cooperative; MN Independent School Forum; Roswell-Park Cancer Institute; American Cancer Society against exemptions to smoking ban; Minneapolis Central Labor Council of AFL-CIO; MN Women's Consortium; MN Transportation Alliance; Legislative Reference Library; Outfront MN; Education MN on legislative platform; Lake Zumbro Improvement Association; National Committee on State Legislatures; Coalition of MN Businesses; National Right to Work Committee against HF17 and HF363; Rep. Hortman about transportation funding; Human Life Alliance; MN Principals' Academy at U of M Consortium for Post-Secondary Academic Success; Council on State Governments Midwestern Office; Guthrie Theater; Tax Foundation; MN Fathers & Families Network; League of MN Cities; MN Transportation Alliance; MN Budget Project; State Legislative Audit Commission; National Coalition of Free Men-Twin Cities Chapter on domestic violence commited by women on men; Conservation MN on governor's proposed conservation and environment budget; Solid Waste Management Coordinating Board on electronic waste issue; citizen lobbyist on promoting stadiums; Farm Bureau; MN Citizens in Defense of Marriage; Mall of America; student candidate for U of M Board of Regents; MN Assn of School Administrators, MN Association of Secondary School Principals, and MN Elementary Schools Principals Association; MN School Counselors Association; Department of Administration's Drive to Excellence program; Early Childhood Caucus; MN Outdoor Heritage Alliance; MN Taxpayer Association; Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights against U of M policy on recent play; League of Women Voters on trail policy; Redwood Falls energy company; MN Environmental Partnership