Friday, March 6, 2009

Week of March 1, 2009

Stimulus follow-up: Our fiscal analysts have posted a summary of stimulus money coming from the feds to Minnesota. The pdf document is a summary of the various programs funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the federal stimulus bill). The items in this summary were prepared by state agencies and assembled in Minnesota Management and Budget. This is sort of a first draft, more and better information will likely be added.

Budget: Contrary to the hype out there, we are all working furiously on budget options. Just can't divulge much yet! I'm working on several health and human services items as we speak to find efficiencies and savings.

Schedule: Monday included a two caucus meetings and a short floor session and a presentation to students from the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs with other alumni who work at the capitol. Tuesday included a meeting of the Taxes Committee (Department of Revenue technical bill), two committee caucus meetings, a cable TV interview, a meeting of the Health Care & Human Services Policy Committe-HCHS (bills on blood lead monitoring and bisphenol-A), and a meeting of the Environmental Policy Committee (Minnesota Clean Cars Act), and a meeting at my Senate DFL district in the evening. Wednesday included a meeting of the Taxes Committee (five bills including one controversial bill that would likely allow collection of taxes from on-line vendors who currently are exempt from sales taxes), an HCHS meeting (presentations on effects of childhood trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder, and an oversight hearing about improper use of restraints at an intermediate care facility in Cambridge), and a meeting of the House DFL Caucus. The testimony of the HCHS committee was particularly compelling when an Iraq vet working on PTSD issues told his story. We hung on every word! On Thursday morning, I attended a meeting of stakeholders and other legislators on our homeowner protection legislation and a floor session that considered two bills. In the afternoon, I attended an HCHS committee meeting where we considered two bills--one on access to acupuncture and one on preventative coverage for health savings accounts. I was excused from the Thursday afternoon Environmental Policy Committee meeting due to parent-teacher conferences. On Friday morning, Rep. Knuth, Sen. Marty, and I spoke to a rally in the Rotunda for All Parks Alliance for Change (APAC), an advocacy group for residents of manufactured homes--their slogan is "Mobile Justice." In the afternoon, my intern and I visited a business in Afton that uses sustainable onsite water recycling and wastewater treatment systems.

Visitors: lobbyist for Qwest on telecommunications issues; staff and lobbyist for Kennecott Exploration regarding non-ferrous mining in Minnesota; staff for All Parks Alliance for Change on HF356; three constituent members of MN Association of Public Employees (MAPE) with MAPE's legislative agenda; constituent and lobbyist for MN Insurance & Financial Services Council; staff and lobbyist for Western Lake Superior Sanitary District on wastewater and solid waste issues; representative of 1,000 Friends of Minnesota about HF898 that would link transportation and climate change policy; staff from North Oaks Golf Club with legislative agenda of MN Landscape and Nursery Association; staff and lobbyist for Metro Cities about local government aid and other tax issues; citizen lobbyist for container deposit legislation

Constituent contacts: Shoreview constituent concerned about health data privacy, DNA newborn screening, gun control legislation, and taxation in general; Blaine resident and two Shoreview residents against proposed cuts to rehabilitation services for adults; Shoreview resident against HF989 that would eliminate exemption on religious grounds for full head driver's license photo; Shoreview resident supporting HF1077 that would require licensing for respiratory therapists; Circle Pines resident supporting HF1071 that would require the issuing of only one license plate instead of two per vehicle; Lexington resident concerned about taxes on the middle class; Circle Pines resident supporting HF797 that would define horses as livestock; Lexington resident against sending prisoners from one state-run prison to a private prison in western MN; Shoreview resident supporting creation of an oral hygienist practitioner license and training; Shoreview resident against a provision of a bill that would prohibit the creation of a new charter school within one mile of an existing public school; Shoreview resident supporting progressive taxation; Circle Pines resident against new Obama administration; Shoreview resident supporting funds for family planning; Lino Lakes resident supporting get tough approach to illegal immigration; three Shoreview residents supporting platform of MN Association of Professional Employees; Shoreview resident against HF953, a bill to create gun registration; Shoreview resident against HF417 related to insurance; Shoreview resident supporting reform of taxation of charitable gambling operations; Shoreview resident supporting HF1249 that would license clinical laboratory technicians; Shoreview resident and North Oaks resident against proposed cuts to health care safety net; Shoreview resident against HF772 and HF803 that would limit medical examinations by physicans paid by insurance companies; Blaine resident inquiring about the purpose and cost of Governor Pawlenty's foreign trips; Blaine resident seeking changes to high school graduation tests for math; two Circle Pines residents supporting bill that would eliminate or change mandates for homeschooling; Shoreview resident against Governor's proposed cuts to housing; Circle Pines resident against HF797 about horses defined as livestock; Lino Lakes resident supporting inclusion of all possible therapies for autism in HF359; Circle Pines resident against gay marriage, expansion of gambling, medical marijuana, comprehensive sex education, and abortion; Shoreview resident sending me quotes from Thomas Jefferson, inferring that a conservative philosophy of today is in line with TJ's thinking; Blaine resident against expanding the sales tax to clothing and against public financing of a Vikings stadium