Thursday, February 12, 2009

Week of February 8, 2009

Shoreview library saving energy and money: The on-line news site Minnpost recently did an article about how local governments can save money through energy legislation in the federal stimulus package. They showed an example of how the Shoreview Library upgraded its lighting and will see a payback of the investment in 3 1/2 years. The word I have is that the money coming to Minnesota from the stimulus package will create 66,000 jobs in the state.

Bicentennial: I've been serving on a committee with another legislator to help celebrate the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln. The Minnesota Historical Society has a GREAT site about Lincoln's connection to Minnesota.

Budget listening session: Don't forget that the legislature will be coming to White Bear Lake on Wednesday, February 25th at 6:30 p.m. to hear your thoughts about the state budget. You can find details at and sign up as a speaker. My hope is that we can give Minnesotans an idea of just how big the deficit is, and that neither just cuts nor just tax increases will completely solve the problem.

Getting rid of that old TV after upgrading to DTV? If you are getting rid of your old TV and upgrading to accept digital signals, don't forget to recycle your old unit. Information is available at

New Rules: We spent quite a few hours debating new Permanent House Rules on the floor. That may not sound like much, but during the last two years, the legislature has wasted an incredible about of time on the floor--maybe hundreds of hours--in debate that had no limits. The minority Republicans were introducing dozens of amendments to bills in order to slow down the legislative process. In one case I think we voted on about 150 amendments to one bill taking 18 hours to debate it. That keeps us from doing our work in committees and actually have debate on the merits of the bill. So with the new rules we may choose to limit debate (how about six hours instead of 18?) on bills so that we can manage our time well in a part-time legislature. It would also allow us to do our work in plain view of the public instead of way past midnight!

Schedule: Monday included a caucus meeting and a short floor session, then a meeting of the Taxes Committee and a meeting with the Shoreview City Council. Tuesday brought a meeting of the Taxes Committee, a caucus meeting, a Health Care & Human Services Policy Committee meeting on the economic impact of the Governor's budget on MN's hospitals (16 hospitals testified), and an Environment & Natural Resources Policy Committee meeting where I had a hearing on my compost bill (HF403). The bill passed and now goes to the Commerce & Labor Committee. Wednesday included the House Taxes Committee, the HCHS Committee (bills on sexual violence prevention and comprehensive sex education), a caucus meeting, and a training session for committee vice-chairs. Thursday included a caucus meeting, floor sessions on new House rules from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. to 10:45 p.m., the HCHS Committee (death certificate modification bill, long-term care financing bill, and home health care tax credit bill), the Environment & Natural Resources Policy Committee (water and wetlands legislation related to drainage and cost-sharing by local governments), and a joint committee meeting with HCHS to get an overview of how the legislature manages and screens sex offenders. (The Lino Lakes prison houses 200 of them.) Thursday was a long day! Friday included a meeting of the Suburban DFL House Caucus. On Saturday, I met with some local AFSCME representatives about their legislative platform.

Visitors: MN Commission of the Procurement and Use of Anatomical Donations and the University of MN Medical School Anatomy Bequest Program about HF457; lobbyists for MN Chamber of Commerce and American Chemistry Council; Lutheran Social Services staff about intermediate care facility funding in Shoreview; candidate for U of M regent; staff for Seniors & Workers for Quality Care (coalition of organizations supporting workers in nursing homes); two constituent carpenters with legislative platform for union carpenters; teachers from White Bear Lake School district; two constituent engineers with the legislative platform for consulting engineers; lobbyist and staff for non-profit organization that works with organ and tissue donation about HF457; another member about metro parks and trails issues; students from Centennial alternative high school; lobbyist for MN Auto Dealers Association about clean cars legislation; lobbyist for several smaller health care organizations; Centennial School District teachers; several constituent dental hygienists supporting the creation of an oral health practitioner (OHP) program; staff from Friends of the Mississippi River with their legislative platform; another member about clean cars legislation; staff from Association of MN Counties about health care; lobbyist for MN Manufactured Housing Association about HF356

Constituent contacts: Lino Lakes constituent supporting puppy mill legislation; about 20 constituents with petitions for puppy mill legislation; Shoreview resident and North Oaks resident supporting comprehensive sex education; Lino Lakes resident about green initiatives; Lexington resident about veterans and property taxes; Shoreview resident inquiring about state long term care partnership program; two Shoreview residents and two Lino Lakes residents against pay freeze for public employees; Shoreview resident concerned about Governor's allocation of new dedicated sales tax for the outdoors; Shoreview resident with inquiry about gay marriage and the budget; Shoreview resident supporting HF297 with funds for dog parks from new dedicated sales tax; Shoreview resident against funding of dog parks; Shoreview resident about sustainable forestry; Shoreview resident supporting medical marijuana; Blaine resident in support of second amendment; Shoreview? resident supporting cutting education to balance the budget; Shoreview resident against Governor's proposal to cut health coverage and dental coverage to uninsured Minnesotans; Shoreview resident about a business matter with the state; Shoreview resident supporting higher taxes for wealthiest Americans and the federal stimulus package; Lino Lakes resident against proposal for school districts to share services (this was a very well-thought out e-mail); Shoreview resident asking me to drop the phone book issue and to balance the budget and fix 694; Shoreview resident against SF115-the Reproductive Privacy Act; Shoreview resident asking for repeal of new Green Acres law changes; Shoreview resident against the state keeping health data; Lino Lakes resident asking for support of the most vulnerable Minnesotans in the budget process; North Oaks resident promoting organic food to combat obesity; North Oaks resident against cuts to the arts; Shoreview resident supporting legislation requiring health care coverage for autistic children