Friday, August 8, 2008

Early August 2008

Energy interview: About two weeks ago I was interviewed by Senate Media Services for their weekly Capitol Report show. It appears on Saturday nights at 9:00 p.m. so I know you all watched it! (Ha, ha.) My segment was eight minutes and it was part of a 30 minute show about the energy situation generally. You can watch it on-line.

Test your citizenship knowledge: As an amateur genealogist, I got a newsletter from the Ellis Island Foundation. They have a Citizenship Knowledge Test on-line. I thought you might want to try it out! There are five quizzes of 20 questions each. (I got 98 out of 100.)

Per diem
: The recent letter to the editor dialogue that I am having with one of my opponents, John Kappler, has raised the issue of per diem for legislators. A 2007 blog post discusses this in detail and you'll see that I have one of the lowest per diems in the state legislature.

Vanishing Graduates & Minnesota's Future: I received a DVD from the President of the Chamber of Commerce and the head of Growth & Justice about how we are going to be short of college graduates as the baby boomers retire. It was a 30-minute video produced with Twin Cities Public Television that you can watch on-line. There is a companion web site that has lots of background information. Currently only 25 percent of ninth graders in Minnesota will end up completing a college degree, and even that is one of the highest rates in the country.

Rice Creek Chain of Lakes: One of the hidden gems in the north metro (and my district) is the Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Park Reserve in Lino Lakes. My family just went camping for two nights there, and what a deal! We almost had the run of the place because there were very few people there. Anoka County does a great job maintaining the facility.

Schedule: On Tuesday, August 5th, I attended a National Night Out "lunch" at Scandia Shores, a senior apartment building in Shoreview. (I don't think that they stay up late enough to have an evening event!) I had the chance to meet quite a few of the residents, but I'm afraid I was not as popular as the fire department when their truck pulled up. Oh, well! I also met with a group of about five constituents from the Centennial School District to hear their thoughts about education policy and finance, and met with about half a dozen constituents about environmental issues.

On Friday, August 8th, I attended the second meeting of the Legislative Coordinating Commission Working Group on Ethnic Heritage & New Americans. I'm the House DFL Caucus member on the group and Rep. Rod Hamilton (R-Mountain Lake) is the Republican House Caucus member. The purpose of this group is to propose ways to fully integrate new Americans into Minnesota, including into the work force. All the data show that we will be desperately short of labor within a decade. Members of the business community, academia, and nonprofit organizations are members. We had a productive discussion about how to accomplish our mission, and I will be heading up a subcommittee dealing with ethnic heritage along with Senator Patricia Torres-Ray (originally from Columbia) and John Poupart of the American Indian Affairs Council. Immigration will be a major issue in this group. Dr. Bruce Corrie of Concordia University, a member of the working group, has his own blog on the issue of "ethnic trends" that I am reviewing now.

Constituent contacts: Shoreview constituent concerned about drunk drivers; two Shoreview constituents and Circle Pines resident asking for investigation of out-of-state welfare spending; Shoreview resident supporting commitment to education to help Minnesota compete globally; Shoreview resident asking that the federal government re-open the 9/11 Commission report; Lino Lakes about transferability of college credits from one MnSCU campus to another; Shoreview resident pleased with my per diem rate; Shoreview resident about veterans' benefits