Monday, March 12, 2007

Week of March 11, 2007

On Monday, I attended a meeting of the Environment & Natural Resources Committee, two caucus meetings, a short floor session, the Energy Policy & Finance Committee (climate mitigation bill testimony), and the Heritage Finance Committee (funding for public radio and public broadcasting). I also presented a bill in the Tax Committee that would give a tax credit to scrap metal recyclers for upgrading their equipment to comply with HF457.

On Tuesday, I attended the Environmental Finance Committee, visited the Senate Tax Commitee to see if the Senate version of one of my bills was being heard (I'm not allowed to testify in the Senate according to the Senate rules), attended a short floor session, attended a press conference by Rep. Marquart on property taxes, taped a cable TV interview, and attended the Environment Committee.

On Wednesday, I attended a short floor session, an Energy Committee caucus meeting, the DFL House caucus, an Environment Committee caucus, and the Energy Committee. The Energy Committee met for about seven or eight hours on the Global Warming Mitigation Act, which we passed. The main differences between Rep. Ruud's bill and the Governor's proposal to address climate change include Ruud's proposal for a cap-and-trade system of CO2 emissions and a moratorium on new carbon emissions from power plants without "offsets" until a stakeholder group sets up a climate change plan. The moratorium is opposed by utilities seeking to build the proposed Big Stone II coal-powered plant near Milbank, South Dakota, which would provide power to parts of western and southwestern Minnesota. The developers of the proposed coal gasification power plant on the Iron Range (which would store liquid CO2 underground) are also concerned that their project would not be permitted under the proposal.

Some of the opponents of the bill expressed some disdain for the whole idea of climate change, believing it to be "junk science" and so on. This led to some verbal jousting during the meeting, unfortunately, among some members.

On Thursday, I attended the Environment & Natural Resources Finance Committee and the Environment & Natural Resources Committee, as well as a lengthy floor session. The floor session included a two-hour debate about Rep. Rukavina's bill to ban sales of American flags that are not made in America. Passionate arguments were made by members from both parties but ultimately the measure passed handily. I think there would have been less debate (and the bill more meaningful and enforceable) had the bill just required that flags bought by the state government be made in America.

On Friday, I attended a short caucus meeting; a presentation by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension on their theft alert system (a model that could be used for scrap metal recyclers for my bill HF457); a meeting of the House and Senate DFL suburban caucuses; and the Energy Policy & Finance Committee. I had two bill presentations, including a revision of the cold weather rule related to gas connections for low income residents and a bill that would allow consumers to pay for their credit report freeze by check. Both bills passed their respective committees. The latter bill was suggested by a Lino Lakes constituent who was only able to freeze his credit report with one credit bureau by credit card. If your credit card gets stolen and you want to pay the $5 for the credit report freeze, how could you pay for it using a credit card?

Constituent contacts: Circle Pines resident about climate change; two constituent students at Totino-Grace High School preparing for day at the capitol; Circle Pines resident against certain tax increases; Lino Lakes resident asking about how gas taxes are used; Circle Pines City Administrator with comments on HF1221 (conservation and efficiency bill); Shoreview resident against tax increases and proposed $1 fee on deer licenses to support venison food shelves; Centennial Legislative Action Committee on education funding formula; Lino Lakes resident against HF772 that would require higher insurance levels for aircraft owners; Lino Lakes resident seeking support of resolution against the situation in Darfur, Sudan; Lino Lakes city staff about park-and-ride lot situation at Highway 14 and 35E; two Shoreview residents and Circle Pines resident supporting Wine with Dinner; Lino Lakes resident interested in my position on HF1888 on increased rigor for high school students; Lino Lakes resident supporting HF1077, a bill supporting coverage of interpreter services for medical facilities; Shoreview resident supporting a bill that would give preference to mercury-free vaccines; Shoreview resident against taxes; constituent from Lexington about the developmentally disabled; Shoreview resident concerned about proposals on MPV vaccine; Circle Pines resident about outdoor and habitat funding; Centennial Lakes Police Department about local issues, including community mediation issues and metal theft; Lino Lakes resident against allowing use of crossbows during archery season; several residents of Centennial School District against my co-authoring of HF1888 that would place more "rigor" on the high school experience and supporting my co-authoring of another bill (HF1802); Lino Lakes resident against Rep. Kahn's bill to allow non-citizens to vote in local elections (I am against this bill as well); Lino Lakes resident about meeting of Taxpayers for an Anoka County Stadium Referendum; Shoreview resident about HF1595 that allows homeowners to recoup attorney's fees when getting builders to settle warranty claims; Shoreview resident supporting increased taxes on higher income brackets to support property tax relief; Shoreview resident support HF1296 that supports doulas for childbirth; Shoreview resident supporting funding for lower class sizes; Shoreview resident against tax increases; North Oaks resident about MPCA governance and ethanol regulation; North Oaks residence about unique education funding formula problems for Mounds View School District; Lexington resident supporting funding for special education; Shoreview resident asking about a possible "phishing" scam; Shoreview resident supporting legislation and funding supporting the deaf and hard of hearing; Lino Lakes resident about education funding; Shoreview resident about plastic card security act

Non-constituent contacts: Arden Hills resident against the possible discontinuation of Q Comp pay system for teachers; unidentified resident, Isanti, and St. Paul resident supporting pro-gun legislation; unidentified resident against tax increases; Ogilvie resident against bill allowing crossbow hunting; Eden Prairie resident against cell phone use in cars; Hermantown resident against funding ATV issues; Anoka County Library Director about proposed Lino Lakes library

(I've got to limit the amount of these e-mail contacts that I list here because the volume is so high and its volume for readers is pretty marginal.)

Visitors: lobbyist for Association of Metropolitan School Districts; lobbyist for Coalition of Greater MN Cities on proposed MPCA phosphorus rule; staff and lobbyist for MN Historical Society about budget request; staff member from Great River Energy about gas peaking plants and their connection to the Global Warming Mitigation Act; about ten members of the Metro North Chamber of Commerce, including representatives of several fraternal benefit organizations (transportation funding was a key concern); Shoreview constituent representing the MN Women's Consortium; Manager of North Oaks Golf Club on behalf of MN Nursery & Landscapers Association; lobbyist for PPM, an independent power producer, about community based energy development legislation; director of Institute for Renewable Energy at the U of M; policy director of Legal Aid about energy legislation; lobbyist for dairy industry about possible legislation on theft of milk crates

Invitations: Center for the American Experiment and achievement gap program; Bowhay Institute for Legislative Leadership Development; Ramsey County library opening in Maplewood; colleagues inviting us to meet John Edwards; Arts Institute International of MN; City of Shoreview on 50th Anniversary of city's incorporation; Jewish Community Relations Council of MN and the Dakotas; Hennepin Technical College

Information sent: Mounds View Public Schools lobbyist; Parents of Murdered Children; Kandiyohi Power Cooperative; Associated Contract Loggers & Truckers of MN; Fresh Energy; Conservation MN; Minnesotans for Global Warming; Energy Bulletin; MN Agriculture & Rural Leadership; Institute for Agricultural & Trade Policy; Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity; Municipal Legislative Commission; MNDOT; MN Literary Council; copies of letters from Governor asking committee chairs to include his initiatives for K-12, higher education, and health care in the pending budget; MN Center for Environmental Advocacy; MN School Boards Association; MN State Council on Disability; League of MN Cities; City of Circle Pines; Mall of America; Great River Energy; Literacy MN on the impact of adult basic education in MN; Sierra Club and Population Connection on family planning legislation; MN Terrestrial Carbon Sequestration Initiative; Teamsters Joint Council 32; Hunger Solutions MN supporting the Legislative Commission to End Poverty; MPCA on intent to issue national pollutant discharge elimination system permit; Clear Way MN (anti-tobacco group); A.B.A.T.E of MN (biker group); Capable Partners (group promoting hunting and fishing for the disabled); National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors-Minnesota with recommendations on health care; Missouri River Energy Services about new wind generation capacity; BioBusiness Alliance of MN & Life Science Alley; Ramsey County Juvenile & Family Justice Center; AARP with legislative priorities; Senior Housing Partners about long-term care

(I've got to limit the amount of the information sent section that I list here because the volume is so high and its volume for readers is pretty marginal.)