As I’m settling into my new role as a state legislator, a lot of folks have asked me how things are going. I usually reply with a statement that includes the words “very busy.” My schedule is packed with committee hearings, constituent and organizational meetings, and community events of all sorts. Like any new employee, I’ve spent the past few weeks preparing myself to do my job to the best of my ability, meeting new colleagues, and learning lots of new information. I thought I would share with you a little bit about what I’ve been up to and what it’s like to be a first-term legislator.
In the months of November and December, I attended trainings, conferences, and retreats where I had the opportunity to learn more about a variety of topics, including how the legislative process works; the services and resources available to legislators; best practices for constituent engagement and working with our legislative assistants; working with small businesses; and much more. I also had the opportunity to build friendships with fellow new legislators at these events. It’s been helpful to have other people in my position learning alongside me, not to mention more enjoyable.
Session started on January 8 with a swearing-in ceremony on the House floor. My parents and sister were there to help mark the occasion. For me, this was the moment when it really felt real - that my dream of being a public servant was finally realized. The rest of the first week was spent learning more about important issues like healthcare and education, participating in implicit bias and sexual harassment training, and settling in to my office.
Committee hearings started the second week of session. I’m honored to have been chosen as the Vice Chair of the Legacy Finance Division, which provides funding to protect Minnesota’s water sources and natural resources; enhance parks and trails and outdoor recreation; and encourage arts and culture. I’ll also be serving on Agriculture and Food Finance and Policy, Early Childhood Finance and Policy, and Education Policy. We’ve spent the first couple of weeks hearing from stakeholders and experts in the field.
I’ve had the chance to learn more about a variety of issues, but have been most impacted by testimony about mental health needs in our schools and on our farms, particularly a story that a woman shared about her husband's suicide due to farm-related stress. While the focus of these hearings has so far been on learning, it’s crucial to have this base of knowledge before acting on these important, often complicated issues. However, many great bills have already been introduced, and I’m looking forward to hearing public input. Working together, we can create a better future for all Minnesota families.
Though some days are so busy that I barely have time to eat lunch, I am enjoying the fact that I can “nerd out” about public policy on a regular basis at work. And I continue to be humbled by the fact that people in our community chose me to represent them at the Capitol. Talking with constituents is one of my favorite parts of being a representative. I encourage you all to share your stories and perspectives, questions, and concerns with me. You can reach me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at 651-296-3018. I hope to hear from you soon!