Sunday, January 4, 2009

Weeks of December 21st and 28th, 2008

Committee assignments: On Wednesday, December 31st, I received my committee assignments. They include Environment and Natural Resources Policy, Health and Human Services Policy, and Taxes. I'll be the vice-chair of the Environment and Natural Resources Policy Committee under Chair Kent Eken. The Health and Human Services Committee was a bit of surprise but I am looking forward to active participation.

Schedule: On Monday, December 29th, I met with the warden at the Lino Lakes prison to get a background briefing on corrections. It costs $81.56 per day to keep someone incarcerated at Lino Lakes. Minnesota also has one of the lowest incarceration rates per capita in the U.S., in part because we don't keep a lot of people in jail for minor non-violent offenses. Less than three percent of our state budget is spent on corrections, which puts us at number 49 out of 50 in the U.S. (Oregon spends 10.9% at the number one position.) Lino Lakes can house up to 1247 medium security and 87 minimum security inmates.

Visitors: None during the holiday break

Constituent contacts: Shoreview resident and North Oaks resident asking for protection of programs for the most vulnerable Minnesotans; Shoreview resident seeking a get-tough approach on illegal immigration; North Oaks resident supporting GLBT rights; North Oaks resident suggesting a revenue source to balance the state budget; Lino Lakes resident upset about higher property taxes for cabins; Lino Lakes resident supporting physical education requirements for public school students