Before I depart the Minnesota House when the next legislative session begins January 3, I wanted to check in with you one more time to offer my thanks and gratitude for giving me this opportunity.
Over the course of the past 10 years, the fact the position of state representative isn’t “my seat” has remained top of mind; rather, this is the people’s seat, and it’s been an honor to work on your behalf in Saint Paul. I’m especially grateful to those who took the time to write to me, call me, or come down to the Capitol to share your viewpoints, priorities, and ideas – even if you didn’t necessarily agree with me.
Governor Walz and lawmakers this coming session will have a $17.6 billion projected budget surplus. Minnesotans are counting on state leaders to move beyond gridlock and make meaningful progress to invest in our schools, make health care more affordable, strengthen public safety, and help families with rising costs. As they take on this work, I hope you will continue to stay engaged with your state government and be in contact with your elected officials. Expectations for success should be high, and when the session adjourns in May, a new budget that builds upon a state that works better for everyone should be signed into law.
I am proud of the progress we have made together. This past biennium, I had the honor to serve as Chair of the House Agriculture Committee, where we strengthened farming and food production. In a compromise budget agreement, lawmakers provided financial assistance to beginning and emerging farmers, new support for small meat and poultry processors, strengthened disease preparedness and response, advanced new avenues for biofuels, along with overdue drought relief payments. The legislation also included record investments in high-speed broadband access which will strengthen the vitality of rural communities for decades to come. Prior to that, in 2019 and 2020, I chaired the House Labor Committee where we created the strongest wage theft enforcement law in the nation and supported apprenticeship programs such as “Helmets to Hardhats” which helps military veterans find rewarding careers in the construction trades.
Although I am retiring from public office, I will never forget the memories of serving the people of Carlton, Pine, and St. Louis Counties, and the important work that we have done together. I wish you all the best, and I hope that you will continue to make your voices heard. I also hope you have a joyous holiday season with your friends and family.