Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Appointment to Chair Drinking Water Subcommittee

On Monday, September 18th, Speaker Kelliher appointed me to chair a subcommittee for drinking water source protection. Here is a link to the press release. You may have read articles from the Star Tribune on groundwater pollution called Battling Tainted Water, Hunting the Invisible, and A Toxic Well A Life Changed, and It's Amazing What We Don't Know, plus an editorial on the problem. The appointment was in the works before the Sunday article came out, so the articles were a coincidence.

Weeks of September 9 and September 16

We met in special session on the evening of September 11th and into the early hours of September 12th. According to an agreement with the Governor, we only discussed the issue of flood relief for southeastern Minnesota. (Interesting note: My wife's great-grandmother grew up within the confines of what is now Whitewater State Park, which was heavily damaged in the flooding.) There was a lot of "hurry-up-and-wait" to the session. The Governor asked us to convene at 5:00 p.m., which we did, but the bill was not in complete form until a few hours later. I also met in caucus twice with my DFL colleagues while all this was going on.

The Shoreview Press printed a letter to the editor from a Shoreview resident who felt that opposing points of view should be printed in the paper other than just letters to the editor. I think that is a good idea! I'm happy that the SV Press has done the "ask an official" feature to get detailed answers on certain policy issues. I would welcome the chance to hear from constituents who offer alternative ideas and expressed my support for the idea to the paper.

The Shoreview Press also printed "Ask an Official" that had questions from readers and the Press plus my answers on the legislative process, electronic waste recycling, and transportation.

Visitors: On September 10th, I met with the director of the Anoka County library system to better understand the details of a proposed Lino Lakes library, and I met with a Shoreview constituent about 2007 property tax relief proposals. On September 12th, I met with Ramsey County Commissioner Bennett about transportation funding proposals. On September 13th, I drove to Grand Rapids with another member to speak to the annual meeting of the Solid Waste Administrators Association (all the county solid waste officers) about solid waste issues. On September 17th, I met with a staffer about solid waste issues and met with two staffers from Ramsey County about transportation proposals. On September 19, I met with representatives of four scrap metal dealers and the Minneapolis Police plus Sen. Linda Higgins to discuss progress on the bill that we passed to combat metal theft. It was a good two-hour discussion about how we can improve the process. On September 20, I attended a training session for legislators on how to help veterans who are in the process of returning home. On September 21, I attended a meeting of the MN Resource Recovery Association on the effect of municipal waste processing (aka burning garbage in high-tech incinerators) on climate change.

Constituent contacts: three Shoreview residents pressing for the U of M to settle the clerical workers' strike; Shoreview resident supporting my vote for the Freedom to Breathe Act; Lino Lakes resident supporting constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage; Lino Lakes resident supporting raising taxes for transportation; Shoreview resident asking who paid for my recent end-of-session mailing (my campaign committee did-not printed at taxpayer expense); Shoreview resident disagreeing with points in my recent constituent mailing; Shoreview resident asking for help with understanding what the cable company can charge for phone service; Shoreview resident supporting gas tax increase for transportation; Shoreview resident concerned about application of chemical herbicides on lawns; Circle Pines resident disagreeing with issues in my recent mailing; Shoreview resident supporting flood relief legislation that will rehabilitate trails in SE MN; Circle Pines resident asking about bid process for 35W bridge reconstruction; Shoreview resident interested in distribution of revenues from gas tax and license tab fees; Shoreview resident giving input on my new subcommittee assignment; Lexington resident asking about potential state action to limit carbon emissions from cars;
Blaine resident preferring that homestead tax credits favor homeowners rather than renters; Shoreview resident supporting gas tax and income tax increase but supporting cut in property taxes; Shoreview resident concerned about county tax assessment process; Lino Lakes resident disagreeing with points in my recent constituent mailing

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Week of September 2, 2007

We continue to wait and see if the Governor will call a special session. The proposals change daily! In the meantime, here's what and who is coming through my office.

Visitors: lobbyist and staff from North Metro Mayors Association (NMMA) and I-35W Coalition supporting local government aid to suburban cities and supporting a comprehensive transportation funding plan; staff from MN Center for Environmental Advocacy discussing groundwater pollution issues; lobbyists for Municipal Legislative Commission (MLC) and Suburban Transit Association discussing transportation and transit (readers: the NMMA includes Circle Pines and the MLC includes Shoreview; their platforms vary); CentrePoint Energy lobbyist and staff updating me on relevant issues

Constituent contacts: Five residents in favor of constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage; Lino Lakes resident concerned about use of social security numbers by insurance companies; Shoreview resident against an increase in the gas tax; Shoreview resident in favor of an increase in the gas tax; Shoreview resident favoring tougher penalties for adults who leave children in the car and against female genital mutilation; district resident calling me a "party stooge"; Lino Lakes resident against increased spending and for tax cuts

Monday, September 3, 2007

Big Arrest in Metal Theft Case

One of the major bills I worked on in 2007 was combatting the theft of metals like pipe, wire, tubing, etc. from utilities, construction sites, and abandoned homes. There was a major arrest due to the new law on August 30 in Elk River. KARE-11 News covered the story. The search of the suspect's property led to the discovery of materials stolen from other sites in the state.