While learning the ropes at the State Capitol during their first month in office, State Rep. Denise Dittrich, of Champlin, and State Rep. Melissa Hortman of Brooklyn Park have discovered that they share more than just the first-term label with other members of the Legislative Class of 2004. They discovered that their fellow freshmen also share a common responsibility to get the Legislature working again and a basic agenda based on the "ABCs" of good government – Accountability, Balance and Common Sense.
"I think all of the members of the incoming class of 2004 feel a unique responsibility to make a positive change at the Minnesota Legislature," Rep. Hortman said. "During the past election, Minnesota voters put each if us in office because they trusted us to follow a few simple instructions: Quit the petty bickering, try to work together, and get things done for the common good. With those instructions in mind, our challenge is to help improve the culture at the Capitol."
As a result, Rep. Dittrich and Rep. Hortman have joined with other freshmen legislators to collaborate on key policy initiatives designed to advance their ABCs agenda.
"Because we want to be faithful to Minnesota voters, we freshmen legislators have decided to collaborate where we can on select policy initiatives," Rep. Dittrich said. "We realize that we won’t always agree with each other. In fact, many of us hold sharply diverging views on important subjects. But despite our differences, we agree on three basic principles that we hope will guide our joint efforts."
Rep. Dittrich said the agenda is focused on the basics. "A stands for Accountability. We want to be accountable for the decisions and actions we take as legislators. B stands for Balance. We expect to share burdens and responsibilities in a fair manner. C stands for Common Sense. We intend to focus on long-range solutions, not short term fixes."
Rep. Hortman said she hopes the group will bring fresh approaches and new ideas to a process that has gotten bogged down in excessive partisanship over the past few years.
"We know we don't have all the answers, but I do think we understand that Minnesotans want a new approach that focuses on what's really important. Ultimately, we hope to have a meaningful impact on public policy and the legislative process by finding common ground."