Sunday, March 4, 2007

Week of March 4, 2007

Reminder about Property Tax Hotline & Website. The House Property Tax Relief and Local Sales Tax Division, chaired by Rep. Paul Marquart, launched a 1-800 comment line and website designed to let taxpayers have a say in how the Legislature addresses rapidly rising property taxes. Share your stories about rising property taxes by calling this comment line or logging on to the website. Minnesota's Property Tax Comment line: 1-800-551-5520. Minnesota's Property Tax Comment website:

Circle Pines Town Hall Meeting Wrap-Up: There were about 15 people who attended the Circle Pines Town Hall Meeting with Sen. Rummel and me. Topics included transportation funding, ethanol, wine with dinner, education funding, county compost sites charging fees, the Iraq War, animal rights, immigration and voting fraud, income taxes, electronic waste recycling, funding for parks, water, and trails, and property taxes. I will be sending out a letter or e-mail to the people who attended to follow up.

On Monday, I prepared for my bill hearing on HF457 in the Local Government & Metropolitan Affairs Committee and presented the amended bill in the evening. It passed on a voice vote to the next committee. I attended a short floor session at 12:30 as well as a caucus meeting. I was saddened to learn of the death of former Sen. Dallas Sams, who was a leader on environmental issues in rural Minnesota. Sams had bravely battled with cancer for the last few years. I attended a short meeting of the DFL Suburban Caucus, the Energy Policy & Finance Committee (testimony on conservation and efficiency bill), and the Heritage Finance Committee (budget presentations by several councils).

On Tuesday, I attended a meeting of the Environmental Finance Committee (hearing on the groundwater contamination issue in the east metro from 3M plants & budget presentation on MN Conservation Corps); attended a meeting with Sen. Higgins and Senate staff on HF457; met with a committee administrator about the fiscal note for HF457; attended a committee caucus meeting; and attended the Environment & Natural Resources Committee (markup on Climate Change Mitigation bill).

On Wednesday, I attended a short floor session in the morning; a DFL energy committee meeting caucus; a Senate hearing of the Senate version of my scrap metal bill (but I had to leave before Sen. Higgins presented the bill); the Energy Policy & Finance Committee; and caucus. In the Energy Committee, we passed a significant energy conservation and efficiency bill.

On Thursday, I attended the Environmental Finance Committee (various bills, including the electronic waste bill, which passed); a meeting of legislators about a bill that would assist the Rock-Tenn paper mill in St. Paul; a short floor session; the Environment & Natural Resources Committee (various bills, including a ban on some brominated flame retardants); caucus meeting; and a joint convention of the House and Senate to elect several U of M regents. I don't think I like the new process used to select regents--it's much too political a process. In the end, we elected Venora Hung, Maureen Cisneros, Linda Cohen, and Dean Johnson.

On Friday, I visited Great Western Recycling in St. Paul. There I met with representatives of several metro area scrap metal recyclers about HF457. It reminded me of my work in recycling for nine years--you never forget the smell. (And that's a good thing!) It was very instructive in contemplating changes to the bill. I attended a meeting of the DFL members of the Energy Policy & Finance Committee and the Environmental Finance Committee about the budget. In the afternoon, I attended the full Energy Policy & Finance Committee where we considered several bills.

Constituent contacts: Lexington, Blaine, Circle Pines, and Shoreview residents asking for support of climate change mitigation act; Lino Lakes resident supporting focusing education efforts on improving the high school experience; Circle Pines resident supporting MN Dog and Cat Breeders Act; Lino Lakes resident seeking better opportunities for individuals to purchase health insurance; three Shoreview residents against tax increases; Shoreview resident about bills affecting the developmentally disabled; Circle Pines resident, two Lino Lakes residents, and Shoreview resident in support of a statewide health insurance pool for educators; Shoreview resident about Board of Medical Practices; Lino Lakes resident about auto fuel efficiency; Shoreview couple for a smoking ban, for a gas tax, and against an income tax hike for education; North Oaks resident supporting HF705 that would support Minnesotans with disabilities; two Shoreview residents on issues affecting the developmentally disabled; North Oaks couple against off-road vehicles; Circle Pines resident supporting platform of Union of Concerned Scientists; two Lino Lakes residents against bill that would have negative impact on insurance agents; e-mail from Centennial Legislative Action Committee; Lino Lakes resident about application of criminal defamation statute to electronic communications; Shoreview resident against any tax increase; Circle Pines? resident in favor of a constitutional amendment for habitat funding and against an increase in the pheasant hunting limit; Shoreview resident supporting increased funding for early childhood education and a bill to prohibit 4x4s on state forest land; North Oaks resident in favor of Wine with Dinner; three Shoreview residents supporting increased funding of parks and trails; two North Oaks urologists supporting HF1077, a bill to require health plans to pay for interpreters; Shoreview resident supporting smaller class sizes and a statewide health insurance plan for educators; two Circle Pines resident s supporting $100 million for clean water funding; two Lino Lakes residents supporting increased K-12 funding for Centennial schools; Blaine resident in favor of HF784 that would increase the eligibility requirements for general medical assistance; Shoreview couple regarding the Board of Medical Practices; Lexington resident about an ATV law on "snorkels"

Non-constituent contacts: Hawley resident against "puppy mill" legislation; Eagan tournament bass fisherman against the game and fish bill (HF1184); unidentified resident against the Real ID Act; Panasonic executive about electronic waste recycling; Henning resident supporting funding to combat aquatic invasive species; several unidentified residents against HF1241 that would allow use of crossbows for hunting; unidentified resident against restrictions on jeep use on trails in HF1127; unidentifed resident supporting medical use of marijuana; several MN residents seeking support of pro-gun legislation; Minneapolis and Falcon Heights residents supporting funding for the MN Historical Society; Great River Energy lobbyist about Climate Change Mitigation bill; Big Lake resident against HF615, a comprehensive sex education bill ("This is a blatant attempt to promote an entirely biased, pro-homosexual, anti-family and anti-religion agenda in the schools and will undermine the fabric of our society....I STRONGLY urge you to vote against this type of cultural suicide."); Marietta couple about a consumer issue; Red Wing resident against coal gasification plant in northern MN; lobbyist for Institute for Agricultural & Trade Policy supporting a mercury product ban bill

Visitors: Spoke with several lobbyists about HF457 prior to the bill hearing on Monday; lobbyists for an electrical utility in SW MN; lobbyist and staff from MPR about budget request; three constituent members from Service Employees International Union about the SEIU platform; Maureen Cisneros, candidate for U of M Board of Regents; Xcel Energy lobbyist on HF1624 (also responded to my questions on nuclear power); constituent from MN Medical Group Association; three AFSCME union members on AFSCME day at the capitol; Shoreview dentist on dentists' day at the capitol; arts advocates from the northern suburbs; ISAIAH members from northern suburbs; lobbyist for White Earth Reservation about proposed ethanol plant; lobbyist for White Earth Recovery Project on wild rice bill; Blaine resident about private college tuition grant; lobbyist for the Institute for Scrap Recycling Industries

Invitations: 916 Education Foundation Spring Gala; Climate Change Symposium sponsored by four Republican House members called "What Science Really Says about Global Warming"; Citizens League Policy and a Pint "Health Care Handcuffs"; MN Catholic Conference for meeting with Roman Catholic Bishops of MN; Eastern Transportation Alliance; Industrial Council Union; Big Brothers Big Sisters; Outfront MN; MN Outdoor Heritage Alliance; Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy; Council of State Governments; Sandia National Laboratories; Sierra Club; MN Committee of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve; Center for the American Experiment on the achievement gap; American Legislative Exchange Council; Met Council on proposed regional sanitary sewer improvements in Circle Pines; International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49; Council of State Governments; Shoreview Rotary Club; Campaign for Conservation; ground water organizations

Information sent: Introductory material about Venora M. Hung, candidate for the U of M Board of Regents; AAA Minnesota/Iowa supporting SF122 (booster seat law); MN Planetarium; Association of MN Public Educational Radio Stations; MN Sentencing Guidelines Commission report on drug offender sentencing issues; Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program; material from retired teachers about HF1602 (pre-1969 teacher pension inequity bill); Center for the American Experiment about new Minneapolis school board member; Lake Zumbro resident supporting clean-up efforts on the lake; Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare; Youth Intervention Program Association; Institute for Local Self-Reliance; Conservation MN; resolution from City of Shoreview supporting increased transportation funding from the state; Coalition of Greater MN Cities about phosphorus limits set by MPCA; MN Aids Project; MN 4WD Association against proposed elimination of 4x4 trails from public lands; MN Coalition for Battered Women; MN Psychiatric Society responding to DVD recently distributed to legislators (I haven't received one) called "Psychiatry: Industry of Death"; MN Family Council against legalization of marijuana for medical purposes; Sexual Abuse Prevention Network; State of MN Indian Affairs Council; League of MN Cities; Otter Tail Power about need for base load energy; Rep. Mariani supporting selection of Maureen Cisneros to the U of M Board of Regents; letter from the Governor to legislators urging fiscal restraint; Wood Fiber Employees Joint Legislative Council; Linda Cohen on her candidacy for the U of M Board of Regents; North American Water Office supporting phase-out of Monticello nuclear plant; LaRouche PAC against prevailing views on climate change; Canterbury Park; MN Zoo; MN Legislative Library; U of M Academic Health Center; MN Women's Press; Coalition of MN Businesses; MN Association of Realtors; MN State College Faculty; Childhood Sexual Abuse victim advocates about HF1239; MnSCU on recycling; Epilepsy Foundation of MN; MN Nursery & Landscape Association; MN Women's Consortium; Anoka Commissioner Sivarajah on mental wellness campaign for Anoka Co.; U of M Center for Early Education and Development; Architecture-MN; Council of State Governments; National Caucus for Environmental Legislators about phosphorus in dishwasher detergent; unidentified resident against bills regulating 4x4s; Specialty Equipment Market Association; unidentifed resident against smoking ban; MN Technology Inc.