By Linda Runbeck
The political landscape at the Capitol is shifting once again, with Minnesota voters deciding to bring more balance to our state government by electing a Republican majority in the House. We will be working alongside a Democrat governor in Mark Dayton and the Senate, which was not up for re-election this year, remains in Democrat control. It has been 30 years since we had a Republican House and Democrats controlling the Senate and the governor’s office.
What will be the tone of this new assemblage? Is there more incentive to work together given the historic turn-overs of power and chastening from the voters both political parties experienced in 2010, 2012, and 2014?
Will bipartisan collaboration become important in the new budget bills and rectifying the underperforming MNsure program?
If there’s any issue requiring substantive and non-traditional dialogue from both parties, it’s the issue of child protection. This issue came to the forefront after the tragic death of abused Starbuck 4-year-old Eric Dean. Our state’s child protection system has serious flaws and Minnesota’s current state guidelines regarding the handling of cases like Eric’s are unacceptable. Attempts at improvement earlier this year had failings of their own, and we must make real fixes in 2015.
Little Eric Dean’s death, however, raises much broader concerns that go well beyond the need to fix our child protection system. And here, an open-minded approach to societal problem solving would be a big step that the Legislature could take. The broader issue which Center of the American Experiment president, Mitch Pearlstein, has been exploring in books and essays is “family fragmentation.” In his latest book, “Broken Bonds,” Mitch finds agreement among academics and civic leaders from across the political spectrum, that family breakdown or the failure to form families (single motherhood), is the root of economic impoverishment as well as educational impoverishment. It has and will begin to affect our country’s long-term economic future.
Reports show the United States likely has the highest family fragmentation rates in the industrial world. Proportionally high rates of nonmarital birth and divorce – around 40 percent each – impact millions of children as well as adults.
We have been slow to investigate ways we could improve ourselves in those regards but, again, this could be an area of bipartisan success. The widespread benefits would cross all facets of our culture, bringing greater educational, economic, and social successes.
It is humbling to continue serving as the voice of local people in the Minnesota House and I appreciate the outpouring of support from citizens along the way. Please provide me with input on these and other issues as we address them so that I may continue doing my best to represent the people in District 38A from Blaine, Centerville, Circle Pines, Hugo, Lexington and Lino Lakes. You can reach me at (551) 296-2907 or firstname.lastname@example.org.