Hello from the Capitol in St. Paul, where a new class of legislators was sworn into office this week with a different landscape from recent years.
Republicans control the House, Democrats control the Senate and there is a Democrat governor in office without re-election on his mind. It will be interesting to see how those parts function as we take on important challenges, especially in setting a new two-year budget. It will require working together to find common ground and make progress, especially as we construct a new two-year state budget.
TOP 5 BILLS UNVEILED
House Republicans unveiled a package of five top-priority bills this week, providing an outline of top goals this session. They include:
• Growing additional better-paying jobs for all – House File 1
• Making sure every child receives a world-class education – House File 2
• Protecting aging adults’ quality of life – House File 3
• Refocusing transportation dollars on roads and bridges – House File 4
• Ensuring fair access and affordability in health care – House File 5
I will provide more details on these various bills as they advance through the legislative process. Bills with ties to our district also could emerge. For example, I am working bipartisanly on issues related to groundwater management plans that strongly impact our cities surrounding White Bear Lake. I also am interested in advancing reforms regarding the Met Council and how we can provide more transparency and accountability for this unelected body that has taxing authority and very little legislative oversight.
Your thoughts are welcome as we start discussions on these and other issues.
COMMITTEES TAKE SHAPE
There are 26 House committees this biennium, with anywhere from 11 to 28 members in each.
Representatives serve three to five committees apiece. My committee assignments for this biennium include: Capital Investment; Government Operations and Elections Policy; State Government Finance; and Transportation Policy and Finance. Transportation could be one for citizens to keep an especially close eye on as we examine how to best sustain our system.
The first few days of this session have been geared toward orientation, especially as so many new members become acclimated. Think of it as freshman orientation.
Please stay in touch as we progress in the 2015 session. You can email me at email@example.com. My legislative office is now No. 417 of the State Office Building if you are planning to visit the Capitol in St. Paul. Please call (612) 296-2907 to set up an appointment.