For more information contact: House GOP Communications 651-296-5522
School Site Visit
Earlier this week, I went on a very informative tour of Bruce Vento Elementary School in St. Paul. I attended the two-hour tour with fellow education committee members, committee chair Rep. Jenifer Loon, committee chair Rep. Sondra Erickson, and Rep. Dario Anselmo, along with committee staff members. We were able to see the school in action and learn about some of the innovative strategies staff members are implementing to reduce behavior issues and improve academic learning - things like co-taught classrooms (with special education, English language teachers, and regular classroom teachers), trauma-sensitive learning environment, targeted instruction, and more.
I find it very informative to do site visits like this to see and experience schools in action (not to mention finding it very fun and interesting as a former teacher!). Experiences like this help us as legislators to be more informed and in touch with the needs of our Minnesota schools. Thank you to Principal Scott Masini and other St. Paul administrators for this informative and interesting tour!
Farmers, MNDOT, and Ditch Mowing
Earlier this year, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) announced that they were going to start requiring state permits, including rather restrictive and expensive requirements, for farmers who mow our state highway (not county) roadside ditches. Farmers, who have been mowing roadside ditches on their own for decades, were understandably concerned and frustrated by these new requirements.
I was part of a group of legislators who worked on this issue last session, and met with MnDOT officials, the DNR, farmers at the local and state level, and other Minnesota legislators early in the year in an effort to gain a better understanding of the various sides of this subject and to work on legislation.
This is a challenging issue that involves many differing points of view. Ditch mowing is a necessity to help keep our roads safe and keep noxious weeds at bay. Having farmers do this not only helps keep our ditches clean and safe, but also saves taxpayers a lot of money because we don't have to use our resources to pay to have our ditches mowed. Because we were not able to come to a mutually agreed upon solution last session, we went with a moratorium to put a hold on any changes to ditch mowing regulations until next year. That will give all sides more time to work together and find some common ground next session.
I believe there is a way to make this work for all involved. MnDOT will be holding a number of listening sessions throughout the state on the ditch mowing issue. I want to thank MnDOT for holding these sessions, as I believe it's important for farmers and other stakeholders to have input and be a part of this decision making process. If you are interested in attending one of MnDOT’s listening sessions, here is a list of the dates and places:
MnDOT ditch mowing listening sessions (all are 6 to 8 p.m. except for Marshall and St. Cloud, which are 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.):
Please Contact Me
I hope you’ll continue to call or email me with any questions, suggestions, or ideas. I love hearing your opinion, and will get back to you as soon as I can.
Be sure to stay safe on the roads if it snows!
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