Monday, April 7, 2008

Week of April 6, 2008

Governor makes line-item veto of Rice Creek Trail: The Governor signed the bonding bill on Monday afternoon while making line item vetoes for quite a few projects. One of the vetoes was for the Rice Creek Regional Trail through Circle Pines and Lino Lakes. This is disappointing, since there were federal matching funds of about $1 million left on the table on this project. Another veto was for the Rush Line Corridor funding that would have built park-and-ride lots along the Highway 61/35E corridor up to Hinckley, which would take traffic off of 35E through our district.

I did notice something interesting in the veto process. The Springbrook Nature Center in Fridley got cut by the Governor. The Tamarack Nature Center in White Bear Lake was approved. The only difference is that a Democrat represents Fridley and a Republican represents White Bear Lake.

Governor signs conflict of interest bill: Some time since Thursday, the Governor signed SF2653, which clarifies state statutes related to conflict of interest for school boards. Senator Betzold and I worked on this bill to make sure that someone can serve on a school board when their spouse also works for the school district. This should resolve an issue related to the Mounds View School District where a new member married to a custodian was told that she might not be able to serve.

Students Speak Out: The Citizens' League is asking students to submit videos that answer the question, "What kind of state do you want to live in when you're an adult?" Check out the rules and guidelines. The deadline is April 21st.

Remembering Larry Morrisette: Long-time Shoreview City Council member passed away last week. I knew Larry from working on the Shoreview Environmental Quality Committee. He always had a quick wit and an easygoing manner. The city's web site has a nice tribute.

I-694 Now on Calendar! One of my pet peeves has been the continued delay in the widening of I-694 between I-35E and I-35W. Bottlenecks have become intolerable, especially since the 35W bridge collapse as people find alternate routes. As of just a few months ago, MnDOT did not even have the project on its calendar, which means it had no funds to put it on their schedule until about 2023 or after. Now, after the passage of the transportation bill, I see on the MnDOT web site that the project is anticipated to begin in 2012. That is good news. (Note: On Monday, April 14th, the MnDOT project manager responded back to me that this is not a "lock" on 2012 and that the agency has firm plans only through 2010.)

Tax revenues slightly up: The MN Department of Finance (click on April 2008 Economic Update) reports that state revenues are above projections for February and March 2008 by about 4.5%. This is good news that helps to shrink the deficit slightly.

Schedule: On Sunday, I attended an ISAIAH community meeting at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in New Brighton on the issue of health care. On Monday I attended an afternoon floor session. We came back at 7:00 p.m. to the floor to finish up several bills on elections. Elections bill always bring up lots of amendments from the minority. Got home around 10:00 p.m. On Tuesday morning I spoke to a class of high school seniors at Centennial High School about the state legislature. They asked lots of good questions, such as, "How do you make decisions?" "How much money do you make?" "How influential are lobbyists?" "What's the best way for someone like us to make a difference?" In the afternoon, I visited a Microsoft/HP "truck" outside the capitol to see the latest technology, filmed an interview for cable TV, and then attended Larry Morrissette's visitation (see above). On Wednesday, I met with several teachers from the Centennial School District about their legislative agenda. After that a St. John's/St. Benedict's student from the district met with me about the state grant program for college students at private colleges. In the afternoon, I attended a House DFL Caucus meeting. On Thursday, I attended a lengthy floor session (10:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.) where we voted on a study for mesothelioma (a type of lung cancer that miners often get) and HF3391, the health care reform bill. On Friday, I spoke to a meeting at the Pollution Control Agency to solid and hazardous waste managers about product stewardship. This is a process by which manufacturers of certain products (like electronics) share in the responsibility for managing the waste at the end of its life.

Visitors: lobbyist for one of the four credit bureaus about HF1665

Constituent contacts: Shoreview couple supporting regulation of puppy mills; two Shoreview residents and two Lino Lakes residents supporting responsible sex education; two Shoreview residents and Lino Lakes resident against House health care reform bill; seven district residents sending form letters from Taxpayers League of MN website about a tax cut petition; Shoreview resident supporting notification to parents about mercury-free vaccines; Lino Lakes resident supporting immigration enforcement; Shoreview couple supporting Central Corridor rail line; Shoreview couple against the Governor's line items vetoes on the bonding bill on rail to Duluth and the Central Corridor; Shoreview resident, Lexington resident, Circle Pines resident, and Lino Lakes resident supporting HF3935 to create a citizen council to oversee funds generated by proposed dedicated sales tax for the outdoors; Circle Pines resident supporting Mall of America expansion; Shoreview? resident against "Hanna Montana" bill to regulate ticket-buying software; Circle Pines resident against radical steps to combat climate change and ethanol subsidies; Lino Lakes resident asking about pension eligibility; Blaine resident, two Shoreview residents, two Lino Lakes residents and additional district resident upset about Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy; three Lino Lakes residents and Shoreview resident against merger of teacher pension funds; Lino Lakes resident supporting additional K-12 funding; Lino Lakes resident against cutting outpatient reimbursements; Lino Lakes resident supporting HF2779 (college savings deduction plan); Shoreview resident supporting private school vouchers; Lino Lakes resident supporting dangerous dog bill; Lino Lakes resident supporting health care reform bill (HF3391); two Shoreview residents supporting Governor's request for bonding on a veterans' home and Lake Vermillion State Park; two Shoreview residents against line item veto of Central Corridor; two Shoreview residents, Blaine resident against "Department of Revenue data match proposal" in the budget balancing bill; Shoreview resident and dentist against advanced hygienist practitioner bill; Shoreview resident, Lexington resident, two Lino Lakes residents supporting my vote on an amendment to HF1812 that may create a large loophole in the smoking ban; Shoreview? resident supporting tax cuts; three Shoreview residents and Lino Lakes resident against bonding bill (one enjoyable comment: "Pull your head out of your backsides..."); Shoreview resident against progressive taxation; Shoreview resident asking about corporate tax loopholes; Lino Lakes resident supporting free trade agreement with Columbia; Shoreview resident against cuts to nursing homes; Shoreview vet against animal chiropractic proposal; Lino Lakes resident concerned about lawsuits and cost of health care; Shoreview resident requesting member directory; Lino Lakes resident against HF3937; four Shoreview residents, Lino Lakes resident, three Circle Pines residents pleased with bonding support for U of M; two Shoreview residents against new DNR rules about aquatic plant management and for HF893