Thursday, January 31, 2008

Week of January 27, 2007

I had some "aha!" moments this week on a few topics.

At Northwest Youth and Family Services in Shoreview: "A joint study conducted by the University of Minnesota and Wilder Research revealed that the state can expect a $4.89 return for every dollar spent on intervention services like the NYFS diversion program." Wow!

* A representative of the Tiller Corp. here in Ramsey County reports that his company would come out ahead with a gas tax increase because his company's trucks are losing two hours a day through congestion. If that daily delay was cut to one hour, they would save $14,000 per year per truck, or $420,000 a year.

* One constituent proposal for insuring the uninsured through Minnesota Care is that we should give program recipients a debit card to use for health care instead of having to pay a middleman HMO to insure that person. This theoretically would save money. As an example, HMOs get a 9% margin on Medicare patients and usually less for private pay patients. Twenty-five percent of Medicare patients use 75% of the dollars in the program, so such an idea could result in real savings.

: On Sunday evening I attended a house party for a presidential candidate in Shoreview. On Monday afternoon, I worked with a house media staffer on some video coverage of district issues. On Tuesday, Senator Rummel and I met with the MPCA Commissioner about the Highway 96 landfill situation and several other environmental issues. Senator Rummel and I also met with staff from the Met Council about two legislative initiatives related to drinking water and wastewater. On the phone I responded to inquiries to three different reporters about cable franchising, mining issues, and the 2008 legislative session. In the evening, I stopped by an Arden Hills-Shoreview Rotary reception in Arden Hills. On Wednesday, I met with a North Oaks resident about local issues. I also met with a representative of the Minnesota Attorney General's office about the Mounds View School Board situation. In the evening, Senator Rummel and I held a town hall meeting at the Shoreview Community Center. We had about a dozen constituents in attendance. We had a very good conversation about transportation, health care, property taxes, education, and other issues. On Thursday, Senator Rummel and I met with representatives of the East Metro Medical Society about health care issues. In the evening, I attended a meeting of the Ramsey County League of Local Government with several of my colleagues in North Oaks. Members of the Shoreview and North Oaks City Councils and the Mounds View School Board were also there. We get invited to a lot of events with other elected officials, and the discussion usually deals with stuff that most voters would find to be "inside-baseball" information. It is a little frustrating, because voters are the people who wield the most influence over legislators, and these events (I've been to half a dozen just in 30 days) are of marginal value. On Friday morning, several local legislators and I visited Northwest Youth and Family Services in Shoreview. NY&FS provides many necessary services to the community, including youth diversion for kids. These diversion programs, often for kids (and their families) who get into trouble, reduce taxpayer costs by keeping these kids out of the criminal justice system.

Visitors: lobbyist from the MN Chamber of Commerce on solid waste issues; lobbyist for several electronics manufacturers as follow-up on e-waste legislation

Constituent contacts: Shoreview nurse about public health issues, including seat belt and graduated drivers licenses; Circle Pines, Lino Lakes, and Shoreview residents supporting tougher laws on immigration; Shoreview resident about human rights issues; four district residents supporting the U of M's bonding proposals; Lino Lakes resident supporting bonding request for the Bell Museum of Natural History; Shoreview resident against breed-specific bans for dogs; Shoreview resident supporting dedicating sales tax for hunting and fishing habitat; Shoreview resident supporting property tax relief; Circle Pines resident against recent MN Supreme Court decision that would apply property taxes to some nonprofit organizations; Shoreview resident against capping of property taxes based on experience in California; Circle Pines resident about a labor regulation issue; 29 district residents sending form letters against taxpayer funding for abortion; Lino Lakes and Shoreview residents supporting "Rule of 90" for retiring teachers