Hold on to your hats. The 2014 Legislative Session is off and running at a fast clip. Over the next three months we will be working on several issues that will shape the future of our state. I encourage you to engage in the process and follow the topics important to you and your families. Your opinion is important to me and I appreciate hearing constructive thoughts on any legislative topic.
As the chair of the Senate’s E-12 Education Finance Committee, my first week of session was a busy one. The committee heard testimony on several issues, including a bill I am authoring on Early Childhood Family Education as well as early childhood education scholarship grants, the Minnesota Reading Corps, a vision therapy pilot project, adult basic education aid, public-private partnerships and pupil transportation.
If you would like to hear those conversations, see our committee schedule, or check out what else is happening at the Capitol, visit the Senate’s website at http://www.senate.mn/. The website is a great resource for everything happening at your Capitol.
Beyond education issues, I also will be focusing on the diminishing water level of White Bear Lake, which is one of my top concerns. I have been working closely with Rep. Fischer, Sen. Scalze, Sen. Chamberlain, the Metropolitan Council and Dr. Perry Jones of the United States Geological Survey. It is also a bonding session, and I will be focusing on several capital investment projects, including:
·Century College – Improving the college’s Fab Lab (Digital Fabrication Lab), upgrading technology in classrooms, increasing lab space for the Solar Program and transforming outdated space.
·Regional Public Safety Training Facility – The bonding dollars would be used to acquire land and prepare a site including environmental work, predesign, design, and construction of the East Metro Regional Public Safety Training Facility in Ramsey County. During our visit, we were joined by a number of firefighters from around the local area as they showed us the new site and highlighted the need for the facility.
·Harriet Tubman Center (East) Regional Safety Service Center and Learning Institute – This legislation includes funding to design, renovate, and equip the Harriet Tubman Center East to be used as a regional safety service center to provide shelter for trafficked women and girls and victims of domestic violence, as well as provide legal services, youth programs, mental and chemical health services, and community education. Senators and staff received an opportunity to tour the site to get a first-hand look at the great work being done in the facility.
·Rush Line Corridor – This transportation corridor extending 80 miles from Hinckley to Union Depot in St. Paul is seeking funding that will improve transit opportunities for thousands of people. Bus rapid transit from the Union Depot to Forest Lake and light rail transit from Union Depot to Hwy 96 in White Bear Lake are two top options being considered.
I am looking forward to another productive year as your state senator. It is truly an honor to represent our district and I will continue to strive to make Minnesota a better place to live, work and play.
As always, please contact me with questions or suggestions regarding any issue. I encourage you to visit me at the Capitol, or let me know if you’d like me to stop by your home or apartment. Also, please tune in to my local cable TV show, “Your Capitol: What’s Up?,” which appears on public access channels 15 and 16. I can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and by phone at 651-296-6820.