ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Senate Purple Caucus announced its first-ever legislative priorities on Wednesday at a bipartisan press conference. Caucus Co-Chairs, Sen. Roger Reinert (DFL-Duluth) and Sen. Jeremy Miller (R-Winona), provided opening remarks and explained the group’s aim to break through some of the partisan walls at the Capitol by focusing on an issue set that puts “Minnesotans first, and other labels second.”
Sen. Reinert and Sen. Miller were joined by Sen. Terri Bonoff (DFL-Minnetonka), Sen. Greg Clausen (DFL-Apple Valley), Sen. Susan Kent (DFL-Woodbury), Sen. Carla Nelson (R-Rochester), Sen. Eric Pratt (R-Prior Lake), Sen. Julie Rosen (R-Fairmont), Sen. Kathy Sheran (DFL-Mankato), and Sen. Bill Weber (R-Luverne).
“The idea behind the Purple Caucus is to bring members together from both political parties to advance important issues facing our state in a bipartisan manner,” said Sen. Miller. “After several productive meetings and lots of discussions, we are pleased to outline our legislative priorities, which concentrate on child protection, education, and transportation needs. The purple caucus is focused on the future.”
The Purple Caucus’ shared values and priorities include:
• An increase in the K-12 per pupil funding formula and a reduction of unfunded mandates for local school districts.
• Additional dedicated funding in transportation, focusing first on core infrastructure but also including other transit options.
• Quick adoption of the child protection provisions that will ensure the safety of our children.
“What I learned from five years on the Duluth City Council is that building relationships matters — you never know who shares your interests on a given issue. The idea for the Purple Caucus came from my military experience serving in a joint, “purple,” unit. Combining that experience with a non-partisan elected background gave me the idea of forming a caucus
of legislators who believe in the idea of “Minnesotans first, others labels second,” said Sen. Reinert.
Reinert and Miller partnered in 2013 to form the Purple Caucus in the Minnesota Senate. Over the past two years the caucus has had 23 members regularly participate, or roughly a third of the body. Not by design, caucus membership is evenly divided. The vast majority of caucus members are newer to the legislature and come from a local government background.
While differences remain, Reinert and Miller agree the robust conversations in which the caucus engages bring members together and allow them to focus on where there is agreement, instead of only their differences.
Sen. Reinert can be reached at (651) 296-4188. Sen. Miller can be reached at (651) 296-5649.