Monday, December 3, 2007

Week of December 2, 2007

Schedule: On Monday, December 3rd, I attended a meeting of the Solid Waste Administrators Association (SWAA) where they discussed how recent e-waste legislation is working out. (It is working out quite well, actually.) I also took the bus from the Capitol to downtown Minneapolis for that meeting using my Go To card. It was cheaper than parking! On Tuesday, December 4th, I attended a legislative listening session by the Anoka County Affordable Housing Coalition. About twenty organizations and about six or seven legislators from both parties were in attendance, as well as several people who are living in a local shelter. It became clear that some of these homeless Minnesotans have multiple issues to deal with, including mental health, criminal background (sometimes by a parent or relative), substance abuse, and a lack of skills to be able to deal with all the forms, agencies, and so on that you have to deal with to get housing and benefits. And some homeless people have also had a run of bad luck, including a recent divorce, health problems, escape from domestic violence, etc. It seems very overwhelming, and I compliment the staff of these advocacy organizations for their commitment and skills.

Here are some freaky statistics: In Anoka County, the workforce ratio (the number of retired workers compared to the number of employed workers) was 1 to 9 in 2005. In 2030, it is expected to be 1 to 3.7! This is another indication that our population is aging quickly, and this has radical consequences for housing.

On Wednesday, December 5th, I attended a meeting with some of my colleagues on health care.

On Thursday, December 6th through Saturday, December 8th, I attended a conference in Chicago of the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators (NCEL) for the Great Lakes region. This trip was not taken at taxpayer expense, and I received a scholarship from NCEL in order to go. The funding for the scholarship came from the Joyce Foundation. Topics included chemicals found in umbilical cord blood, renewable energy, Great Lakes ballast water legislation to combat invasive species, e-waste, green building, climate change, clean cars, and smart growth. We also toured the Chicago Center for Green Technology and a Mercy Housing low-income housing project that incorporates green building techniques, including a battery-free and low-profile wind turbine design that I had not seen before.

Visitors: House researcher about solid waste legislation; a committee administrator about the drinking water subcommittee; lobbyist for Clean Water Action about future environmental proposals

Constituent contacts: North Oaks resident concerned about decreasing health care coverage and increasing cost; Shoreview resident supporting universal health coverage, concerned about overcapacity in K-12 education, better funding for transportation, and lower property taxes; Shoreview resident about bike trail funding; Shoreview resident about MN Board of Medical Practice