Thursday, July 10, 2008

July 2008 Update

Shoreview Plaudits: Family Circle magazine just named Shoreview as one of the ten best towns for families in its latest issue! Check out the article on-line.

Northwest asking for better regulation on oil speculators: If you are a Northwest Airlines customer, you may have received an e-mail this week signed by a bunch of airline CEOs. I don't claim to be an expert on oil speculation, but since this came from a major industry I found it intriguing.

"An Open letter to All Airline Customers:

"Our country is facing a possible sharp economic downturn because of skyrocketing oil and fuel prices, but by pulling together, we can all do something to help now. Visit

"For airlines, ultra-expensive fuel means thousands of lost jobs and severe reductions in air service to both large and small communities. To the broader economy, oil prices mean slower activity and widespread economic pain. This pain can be alleviated, and that is why we are taking the extraordinary step of writing this joint letter to our customers.

"Since high oil prices are partly a response to normal market forces, the nation needs to focus on increased energy supplies and conservation. However, there is another side to this story because normal market forces are being dangerously amplified by poorly regulated market speculation.

"Twenty years ago, 21 percent of oil contracts were purchased by speculators who trade oil on paper with no intention of ever taking delivery. Today, oil speculators purchase 66 percent of all oil futures contracts, and that reflects just the transactions that are known. Speculators buy up large amounts of oil and then sell it to each other again and again. A barrel of oil may trade 20-plus times before it is delivered and used; the price goes up with each trade and consumers pick up the final tab. Some market experts estimate that current prices reflect as much as $30 to $60 per barrel in unnecessary speculative costs.

"Over seventy years ago, Congress established regulations to control excessive, largely unchecked market speculation and manipulation. However, over the past two decades, these regulatory limits have been weakened or removed. We believe that restoring and enforcing these limits, along with several other modest measures, will provide more disclosure, transparency and sound market oversight. Together, these reforms will help cool the over-heated oil market and permit the economy to prosper.

"The nation needs to pull together to reform the oil markets and solve this growing problem. We need your help. Get more information and contact Congress by visiting"

Schedule: On Wednesday, July 2nd, I filed for office at the Secretary of State's office. Just in case you are curious, it costs $100 to file to be on the ballot. Quite a few candidates make this a big deal, even bringing a photographer with them and issuing a nice fluffy press release. I will likely send in a notice of filing to our local papers but that's about it.

On Monday, July 7th, I met with the reporter for the Shoreview Press to discuss the previous legislative session. On Tuesday, July 8th, I attended the ribbon cutting for the new Lake Drive bridge over 35W. A bunch of us "cut" the ribbon with two-foot long plastic scissors. The bridge is complete but not all the lanes are open and the traffic lights are working yet. There is also some paving going on. My kids happened to come with me and they were under the impression that no traffic would go on the bridge until after the ribbon was cut. Instead, we did it under a tent on the side of the road. Ah, well. It should be noted that the state did NOT chip in any cash for the new bridge but did give some in-kind design assistance. With the new transportation bill in place, additional funding will be filtering down to cities and counties so that property taxes are not the sole source of funds for projects like this.

On Wednesday, July 9th, I met with staff at the MN Pollution Control Agency to make sure agency staff understood the intent of my legislation requesting ideas for how to increase recycling and composting in the state. The staff shared some interesting information about how the state could conserve a lot of petroleum by recycling asphalt shingles from roofs. More later!

On Friday, July 11th, I met with the groundwater planner for the Ramsey Conservation District (formerly the Ramsey County Soil & Water Conservation District). He is drafting the county groundwater plan during the next six months and asked for my input as the chair of the Drinking Water Source Protection Subcommittee in the House.

Constituent contacts: Lino Lakes resident asking about veterans' legislation; Lino Lakes resident with a recycling question; Shoreview resident about insurance issues--specifically STOLI (Stranger Originated Life Insurance); Shoreview resident asking about investigation into the Attorney General's office, dedicated sales tax constitutional amendment proposal, and 2009 budget plan; Circle Pines resident against highway ramp meters; Circle Pines resident asking whether or not asphalt shingles can be recycled; Shoreview resident concerned that some of my more conservative constituents contacting me could alter my thinking and thoughtfully offering the idea that "the quiet majority that put you into office is open minded, yet rational and discerning" (best e-mail I've gotten in a while!); Lino Lakes resident concerned about affordability of energy and in favor of nuclear power; North Oaks resident concerned about changes to cable TV offerings and regulation

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Phone Number Changes

Not a lot of people use my home constituent line. (I have a separate line so my wife and kids don't have to answer the phone for this kind of thing.) So I'm canceling that line but you can always reach me on my blackberry at (612) 227-4582.