Friday, March 21, 2008

Week of March 16, 2008

Getting postcards in the mail? The DFL Party sent out a postcard this week to district mailboxes supporting me but I was not aware that it was coming out. This is what is called an "independent expenditure." Candidates are not permitted to coordinate with the party or other organizations on these kinds of expenditures, even though it has my name all over it.

The Republican Party also sent out a postcard this week that attacks me for supporting the transportation bill. It apparently tells people to contact me to express dissatisfaction with the taxes in the bill. What is interesting is that more people are contacting me to express support for my position!

Schedule: On Monday I attended two caucus meetings and a short floor session. In the afternoon, we heard a compelling presentation by someone from the Canadian Geological Survey on the issue of peak oil. After about an hour it was pretty clear that we might see a swift global drop-off in crude oil supply in the mid 20th century. Later I presented my solid waste bill HF3540 to the Environmental Finance Committee. The bill will be "laid over for possible inclusion" into the committee's omnibus finance bill. I had quite a spat with the Yellow Pages Association's lobbyist about language in the bill that would allow consumers to opt-out of getting a phone book if they don't want one. (They didn't like it.) The committee chair gave the lobbyist a hard time in the hearing because the recycling rate for phone books is so poor. In the evening in the Energy Policy & Finance Committee we voted on Rep. Knuth's bill on a cap-and-trade mechanism for addressing global warming.

My six year old son was pretty sick this week so I was at home with him on Tuesday until someone came over to watch him in the mid-afternoon. At four, the Environmental Finance Committee heard my drinking water bill, HF3238, and it was also laid over for possible inclusion in the committee's omnibus bill.

What does "laid over for possible inclusion" mean?" That's when a bill is held in a committee, and the committee chair and members can include that bill into a larger one. It tends to be applied for bills that have a fiscal impact and therefore can be wrapped into a larger finance bill. That helps make it easier to process the bills instead of having a ton of individual bills on the floor and trying to figure out how they fit into the entire state budget.

On Wednesday, I attended a caucus meeting and a short floor session dealing with several small bills. In the afternoon, my bill (HF3477) on reducing predatory lending for manufacturing housing received a hearing in the Commerce Committee and moved to the floor. Finally, the Energy Policy & Finance Committee met to hear four bills.

On Thursday, Friday, and next Monday we are off for the Easter Break.

Visitors: Centennial Legislative Action Committee about levy equalization in the K-12 funding formula; several lobbyists on solid waste issues

Constituent contacts: Shoreview resident against taxpayer funding of abortions; Circle Pines resident against "good faith" bill; Blaine resident supporting private college grant program; Shoreview resident supporting staggered terms for members of the Met Council; Circle Pines resident and Shoreview resident asking for support of efforts to protest Chinese repression in Tibet; Circle Pines resident against so-called sanctuary cities; Shoreview resident against cuts to pharmacy reimbursement rates in Governor's budget proposal; Shoreview resident reacting to recent Star Tribune article about the TIZA school; Lino Lakes resident with questions about bridge collapse claims and health care; Shoreview resident against "gestational carrier arrangements" bill; Lino Lakes resident with questions about transportation bill; about 15 district residents supporting a citizens' council that would decide on funding distribution if the dedicated sales tax passes for the outdoors; Lino Lakes resident against a consumer protection bill for wireless customers; Lino Lakes dentist against advanced hygienist practitioner proposal; Blaine resident supporting film industry incentives; Lino Lakes resident against comprehensive sex education; three Shoreview residents, two Circle Pines residents, and Lino Lakes resident supporting bonding proposal for U of M; six Shoreview residents, Lino Lakes resident, four North Oaks residents disagreeing with Republican Party postcard criticizing the transportation bill and expressing support for my vote; five Lino Lakes residents, three Circle Pines residents, Lexington resident, three Shoreview residents against my vote on the transportation bill; five Shoreview residents and Lino Lakes resident against health care reform bill; five North Oaks physicians, Shoreview physician against the Governor's proposal to raid the Health Care Access Fund to balance the budget