For more information contact: Caitlyn Stenerson 651-296-5989
Friends and neighbors,
It is such an honor and a blessing to be your voice in Saint Paul. Thank you to all of you who have visited, called, or emailed me to share your thoughts. I am so grateful to represent such an engaged constituency! My colleagues and I have been hard at work for you, our valued taxpayers, and will continue to ensure we keep the very best interests of all Minnesotans ‘top of mind.’
House File 2 – Improving Student Learning by Empowering Teachers and Schools – Passes the House
I would go so far as to state that high quality education – world-class public schools with outstanding teachers – is the primary reason most of us have either relocated to or made the decision to stay within our community. In fact, my husband and I specifically chose to build a home and raise our family in our Chanhassen neighborhood based on the renowned reputation of Minnetonka Public Schools. House File 2, which was passed by the House last night, enhances teacher licensure and makes it easier for school districts to hire and retain top-notch teachers. I am grateful to my passionate, hard-working colleagues, Chief Author of HF2 and Chairman of the Education Finance Committee Rep. Jen Loon of Eden Prairie and Chairman of the Education Innovation Policy Committee, Rep. Sondra Erickson from Princeton (who began her teaching career in 1963) for their leadership on this important legislative initiative. Based on a very recent KSTP poll, it’s crystal clear that Minnesotans are supportive of our efforts to reform K-12 education in the state.
Prohibit Taxpayer Funded Abortions
As Chief Author of HF787 which would prohibit taxpayer funding of abortion, I presented my bill before the Health and Human Services Reform Committee on Wednesday. You can view my testimony here. My bill is a clone of HF607, chief authored by my colleague Rep. Tama Theis of St. Cloud. Together, our bills have broad bipartisan support. While my position on the issue of protecting life is not a secret, I also approach this issue from the perspective of the hard-working taxpayers of our district. My bill is not about abortion – an issue which good people throughout our community strongly disagree. Rather, it addresses the common ground on which a majority of Minnesotans do agree; that taxpayers should not be expected to pay for abortions. Given the fact that our district is among the most highly taxed in Minnesota, I believe this common-sense reform to limit spending of the hard-earned dollars you send to St. Paul is in the best interest of our district.
Increasing Diversity in State Agencies
On Tuesday morning, HF1078, a bill to create a dedicated fund incentivizing state agencies to increase the percentage of employees with disabilities each hires, was heard before the Government Operations and Elections Policy committee. It was disappointing to learn that employees with disabilities comprise only 4.7% of our state agency workforce – down from 10% in 1999. While I completely agreed with the intent of the bill and shared the Governor’s goal of achieving a 7% benchmark by 2018, I did not like its $1 million price tag! As a result, I had the A-2 amendment drafted which shifted resources on a pro-rated basis from already-existing agency budgets to create the dedicated account from which agencies could draw upon after having hired an employee with disabilities. My amendment was unanimously adopted by the committee and added to the bill. I love the spirit of this bill, was inspired by the testimony of a former agency employee with disabilities, and am looking forward to working collaboratively with my legislative colleagues to craft a solution to capitalize on this opportunity as a state.
Protecting Our Lakes from the Threat of AIS
As you may be aware, the faulty AIS (aquatic invasive species) trailer decal legislation enacted in 2012, which was to have taken effect on July 1st, was put on ‘hold’ in late January. New legislation, an ‘AIS Fix,’ HF1065, was introduced and is moving through the legislative process. It clears up confusing language, calls for strict enforcement penalties by the DNR, and is more welcoming to out-of-state tourists whose business we value.
I am actively engaged on this complex issue and look forward to working collaboratively with property owners, anglers, local units of government, and other stakeholders in the weeks and months ahead to ensure we’re doing all we can to protect Lake Minnetonka and the many other lakes within our district.
Strong Grassroots Advocacy for Investments in Research and Development
In the Higher Education Policy and Finance committee we heard moving testimony from Excelsior resident Rob Wudlick, who advocated for a bill, HF777, which would fund a grant program for spinal cord and traumatic brain injury research. Thank you, Rob, for having shared your story and the impact this legislation could have on your quality of life and that of countless other Minnesotans! Given the fact that the 3rd Congressional District is the world’s epicenter of medical device technology, the University of Minnesota and its renowned medical research department is right in our backyard, and the strong grassroots advocacy for spinal cord research and other medical conditions that greatly impact our community, I am optimistic that with funding, medical breakthroughs are on the horizon. I look forward to continuing to support constituents such as Rob who have done a wonderful job of ‘making their case’ to the Legislature. Their efforts have positively influenced the legislative process and are very likely to impact the outcome of the final legislation as well.
The date by which policy bills must be heard in both Senate and House committees is quickly approaching! All bills must be heard in their first committee by Friday, March 20th, and in all additional committees to which a bill is referred by Friday, March 27th. As you can see, my ‘window of opportunity’ to act on issues of importance to my constituents is closing. Time is of the essence! If you have an idea for a bill, please reach out to me as quickly as possible. Depending upon your idea, we may still have time to act. J
Congratulations to neighbors Jim and Linda Bendt of Chanhassen as they celebrate two successful years since the launch of their extraordinary Excelsior business, Pique Travel! If your family is in the market for a once-in-a-lifetime travel experience, I highly recommend you consider checking out Pique. I look forward to attending their 2nd Anniversary celebration on Saturday!
Don’t forget to set your clocks forward an hour before you go to bed on Saturday night! To combat the lost hour of sleep, consider stopping into one of the great coffee shops in our district. Looking forward to being out and about in the district this weekend and enjoying the spring-like weather. Hoping to see many of you!
Please continue to reach out to me to share your thoughts on the issues that concern you and your family. I welcome your feedback and am always available to listen! You can schedule an appointment to either meet with me in St. Paul or closer to home in our district by calling my Legislative Assistant, Claire, at (651) 296-4272, or feel free to email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please also consider encouraging your friends and neighbors to stay informed about some of what’s happening at the legislature. If interested, they may sign up for my email updates here.
Have a wonderful weekend.