Sunday, June 29, 2008

June 2008 Wrap-Up

If you just got my end-of-session mailing and are visiting this site for the first time, welcome! If you're looking for my campaign website, click here.

I'm switching to a monthly summary for June since the legislative session was completed in May and I'm out campaigning on a daily basis. I'm a stay-at-home dad this summer until 3:00 p.m. or so when I head out doorknocking.

Schedule: On Monday, June 2nd, I had a fairly large meeting among some health care experts on the issue of my bill HF3810. This bill might take a different form in 2009 if I return to the House. On Thursday, June 5th, I attended a fundraiser for the DFL House Caucus. On Saturday, June 7th, I attended my first state DFL convention, which was in Rochester. I had the chance to sit next to Congresswoman McCollum and have a lengthy chat about issues and politics. I was only able to stay from about noon to four p.m. On Monday, June 9th, I spoke on legislative issues briefly to the Lino Lakes City Council. I prepared a one-page memo summarizing legislative actions that affect the city, which must have been pretty informative because the council didn't say a word and didn't any questions. This is pretty different from other city councils in 53A, which have quite a conversation with me!

On Thursday, June 12th, I was part of a panel discussion at the annual workshop of the Association of Recycling Managers (ARM). ARM is a group of metro area recycling coordinators from cities and counties. I talked about what the legislature accomplished and didn't accomplish during the session for recycling, composting, and product stewardship. Later in the day I stopped by Bethel University, where Girls State was meeting. This is an annual meeting for high school girls where they kind of act like a student legislature. I met with about 15 students as an observer on their "job, energy, and economic development committee," where they were vetting two "bills." One was on funding for renewable energy projects for schools and the other was on the minimum wage. They had good ideas and we had a great conversation.

On Monday, June 16th, I drove to St. Cloud to meet with about 15 county solid waste officers to talk about the legislative session. These are the folks--mostly in Greater MN--who operate landfills and recycling programs at the county level. On Wednesday, June 18th, I joined several other legislators and staff and commissioners from Anoka County about future management of the Elk River Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) plant. On Tuesday, June 24th, two other legislators and I attended an announcement in Eagan by Coca-Cola that they are putting ten diesel hybrid trucks on the road in our area this year. The trucks are more expensive but at current fuel costs the payback period is three years. They use one-third less fuel and have one-third fewer emissions. In the evening, Senator Rummel and I met with the Circle Pines City Council. We had a lengthy and healthy discussion of issues.

During the month of June I also interviewed with several organizations about possible endorsements for the my campaign.

Constituent contacts: Shoreview resident with a drivers' license issue; Circle Pines resident about parking regulations; Lino Lakes resident insisting on more oil exploration in the outer continental shelf; Circle Pines resident distressed about increasing insurance co-pay for MS patients; Circle Pines resident upset about insurance company response to recent hail damage; Circle Pines resident about statute related to collector license plates; Shoreview resident proposing a bus system that uses 694 and 494 to serve the suburbs; Blaine resident promoting more domestic oil exploration and doubting climate change; Shoreview resident against light rail; district resident against taxes and light rail but supporting nuclear power; Shoreview resident for more domestic oil exploration; Shoreview resident asking about 35W bridge reports; Lino Lakes resident about the Lino Lakes Police Department

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Week of June 1, 2008

E-waste collections increasing: Tuesday's Star Tribune had a good editorial about how the e-waste bill I worked on in 2007 is helping consumers get rid of old electronics for free. Best Buy has now set up free e-waste collections in selected stores in three states that have electronic waste recycling legislation: Minnesota, California, and Maryland.

Legislative Reference Library: One of the resources available to legislators and the public alike is the Legislative Reference Library, located in the State Office Building. They are the repository for a lot of legislative reports and statistics compiled by state and other agencies. They have a great web site where can link to these reports.

Visit last week to Lino Lakes: Last Thursday, Senator Rummel and I tagged along with a group from State Farm insurance to look at how they are responding to storm damage. They took us to their temporary auto claims center in a parking lot in Hugo. Drivers with hail damage drove up under a tent, a claims adjuster inspected the car on the spot and entered data into a computer in a nearby trailer with a satellite dish, and the driver drove away with a check for the repairs. State Farm told me that they had handled more than 5,100 cars in four days. (This is just for one company.) Another insurance company had a similar operation set up in a lot in Centerville. We also visited a home in Lino Lakes north of Birch Street to see how the claims team assessed the damage on a private home.

Study finds Minnesota tax burden average: The Minnesota Budget Project analyzed our tax burden and found it average compared to other states. We have higher income and business taxes but lower property taxes, while other states have higher property taxes and often higher sales tax.

Minnesota Minute: A group called E-Democracy is out to "promote the online video contest hosted by the Bell Museum of Natural History as part of the Minnesota Sesquicentennial celebration. The museum is looking for videos that celebrate the natural places in Minnesota and the efforts to take care of them. Basically, the contest entails producing a 1-5 minute video of a person's experience in Minnesota's natural world and their efforts to preserve it. To submit the video, you simply upload the video to YouTube with the tag of MyMinnesotaMinute. The website has more details."

"North Oaks tells Google Maps: Keep out, we mean it": The Star Tribune had an article in the last few days about how it asked Google to remove North Oaks from its "Street View" feature. North Oaks' roads are actually private property, so Google was technically trespassing when it took pictures of addresses from the street. The article tells you how to "take your home off Street View." First, go to, enter the address and when the image comes up, click on "Street View." Click on "street view help" in the image window, then click on "report inappropriate image."