It’s an incredible honor to represent the people of the great Iron Range in the Minnesota House of Representatives. Today, the 2020 session gets underway and I’m excited for our opportunities to build a Minnesota that works better for all of us.
Fighting to Protect Our Range Way of Life
It was my honor to travel to Washington, D.C. last week with business, labor, and community leaders to oppose H.R. 5598, Rep. Betty McCollum’s legislation which would prohibit mining in much of northern Minnesota and threaten future economic opportunity. I thank Congressman Stauber for the opportunity to testify at a bipartisan meeting of the Congressional Western Caucus. We also met with Senator Tina Smith to reiterate our strong opposition to this legislation.
Rep. McCollum is once again demonstrating her desire to kill opportunity in northeast Minnesota without any regard for the families that live there. Let’s be clear: Rep. McCollum does not represent the people of our district. If she truly cared about the environment and the rights of workers she would support a stringent process in a country that ensures both.
We live in a global economy and we also live in a global environment. Any project that meets strict state and federal standards under both science and the law deserves to go forward, and not be stopped arbitrarily by those in Washington who think they know better. I’ll keep fighting to strengthen the opportunity for a prosperous economic future on the Iron Range.
Investing in Our Youngest Minnesotans
One of the biggest discussions I expect to see in the Minnesota House this session is around investments in early childhood care and education. With a modest budget balance, we have the capacity to invest in the support systems and programming which will help ensure our youngest Minnesotans have a brighter future. An expansion of early learning scholarships will help ensure more kids are ready to achieve in school and will be better positioned to succeed later in life.
Access to early learning also benefits children’s social and emotional wellbeing, and can lead to benefits not just for children, but for our society. One example is mental health; supports are inadequate and stigma remains too high. The way we are simply managing this crisis is unsustainable, and we need to reimagine our strategies in approaching this complex problem. Nurturing brain development, especially during the most crucial stage of birth to age three, can pay off huge dividends down the road.
We also know there is a vast child care shortage in our state, especially in northern Minnesota. Waiting lists are too long, reimbursement rates are too low, and too many family care providers are barely hanging on to stay in business. I’ve been working with child care providers in our district, as well as with the Department of Human Services, on solutions to the roadblocks providers face.
Investing in Our Infrastructure
This session I’ll also be working hard to deliver improvements to public infrastructure through a capital investment bonding bill. Our region has several important priorities that deserve funding including the proposed new public safety facility in Virginia, the Hoyt Lakes Arena, the East Range Area Water Treatment Facility, Eveleth’s aging public buildings, Northeast Regional Corrections Center (NERCC), and trails throughout our district.
With interest rates still low, a robust, regionally balanced bonding bill will not just strengthen our key state assets, but will create good-paying construction jobs, too.
Thank you for the honor of being your voice in Saint Paul. Before, during, and after the session I invite you to contact me with your opinions, ideas, or if I can ever be of assistance. My phone number at the Capitol is 651-296-0170 and email is firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m also on Facebook, and I invite you to “like” or “follow” my page for more frequent updates from Saint Paul.