I hope you’re faring well during what seems like the sudden approach of winter weather. There are so many wonderful things to enjoy this time of the year. I hope you’ll get out with family and friends to enjoy them.
First, I want to wish everyone a Happy Holiday Season! This time of year always brings a smile to my face, especially when I see the World’s Largest Snowman in North Saint Paul – if you aren’t familiar with the story take a few minutes and read about it here. It is a fun tradition that is all our own, the city even made it their official logo!
Along with snowmen Minnesotans have a lot to celebrate, including when our days start to get longer. As you spend time with family and friends celebrating, I hope it will be filled with good food, good times, and the joys that come from spending time with the ones we love.
Tina Smith will fill Vacant Senate Seat
Governor Mark Dayton announced he will appoint our Lt. Governor, Tina Smith, to fill the vacant Senate seat. While this has been a hard time for Minnesota, I am really excited to have Tina continuing her work for all Minnesotans in the U.S. Senate. She rightfully earned a reputation as a velvet hammer because she gets so much accomplished with a gentle touch. You can read more about the announcement here.
Minnesota is Best Run State in U.S.A.
It’s no surprise to us how great Minnesota is, in fact it’s surprising when people don’t acknowledge how great we are. We rank among the top in so many areas, but most recently USA Today named us the Best-Run State in the Nation. The study “highlights Minnesota’s strong fiscal management, low unemployment and poverty rates, above-average median household income, and strong credit rating.”
Since ranking 10th in 2012, Minnesota has consistently climbed in the same study under Governor Dayton’s leadership on better government reforms. In general, Minnesota’s level of government services are good and the size of our government very lean. Not only do the numbers demonstrate that, Minnesotans instinctively know so. In another recent survey, a majority of Minnesotans said they were satisfied with the value they receive from state government.
It’s my goal as our community’s voice at the Capitol to keep improving on that and ensuring the things we value are made a priority.
Text to 9-1-1
Minnesotans are now able to text 9-1-1 for help. Law enforcement still encourages people to call 911 when possible, but this new technology offers a text option. This will be incredibly important for people with hearing and speech disabilities, as well as in situations where it may be unsafe to make an audible phone call, such as in cases of domestic violence or sex trafficking. The Pioneer Press put together a nice “how-to” for texting to 9-1-1.
Federal Tax Bill
As you have most likely heard Congress recently passed a tax bill. The bill was written in private and there was very little public discussion. We are not sure what impact the tax bill will have on Minnesota, but I will keep you updated as I hear more.
Reminder: Heating Assistance and Cold Weather Rule
As a reminder, the burden of heating bills can be too much to bear for some families, and no one deserves to be left in the cold. For those Minnesotans under certain income levels, help may be available for payment of energy bills, help with utility disconnections or fuel deliveries, and advocacy with power companies and human service providers. For more information please visit the Minnesota Department of Commerce’s website here.
The Minnesota Cold Weather Rule is now also in effect, which protects residential utility customers from having their heat shut off during the winter months. More information is available from the Public Utilities Commission here.
As always, it’s an honor to represent you and the values of our community at the Capitol.
Leon M. Lillie