The following column by Rep. Patty Acomb was published Thursday, April 25 in the Sun Sailor:
I’ve kept busy attending public hearings, town halls, and communicating with constituents since I began serving as your State Representative in January. When I talk with people, it’s clear that Minnesotans truly care about one another. We value caring for our neighbors and giving everyone the opportunity to succeed. I believe that our policies and budget should reflect those shared values.
Some of my favorite recent conversations have been with students. Young people care deeply about issues like climate change because they know they’ll be the ones facing the consequences. Countless students are actively advocating for change and urging their legislators to act now.
I’m proud to be the author of legislation that would give our youth the future they deserve. My Solar on Schools bill provides grants for installing solar energy systems on school buildings. This would both save school districts money and expand learning opportunities for students. My other proposals would help the University of Minnesota and our state colleges and universities transition to clean energy too.
These educational opportunities are particularly valuable because clean energy is one of the fastest growing sectors in our economy. I support adopting 100 percent clean energy in Minnesota by 2050 because it would create jobs and protect our environment by lowering carbon emissions. To ensure that electricity is reliable and affordable during the transition, our plan provides consumers with opportunities to conserve energy and switch to cleaner alternatives.
Having caring communities means protecting our fellow Minnesotans, and making our roads safer is part of that. In Minnesota, distracted driving is a factor in one of five crashes and results in an average of 53 deaths and 216 serious injuries each year. A bill to require drivers to use cell phones in a hands-free mode was approved with bipartisan support by the House and Senate and signed into law by Governor Walz. Similar policies that ensure drivers focus on the road have reduced accidents and fatalities in other states.
I’ve also heard many concerns about health care in conversations with community members. Caring for one another means ensuring that everyone has access to affordable, high quality care. As a member of the Health and Human Services Finance Committee, I’m proud that my House colleagues and I are taking steps to lower the costs of prescription drugs, expand health care coverage options, and address disparities. Strengthening protections for seniors and vulnerable adults who live in nursing homes or assisted living facilities and addressing the rise in youth tobacco use have also been priorities this session.
I’m excited by what we’ve accomplished so far and confident that more progress is ahead. I’ll continue advocating for our community and a better Minnesota for all of us. I value your input, so please feel free to contact me anytime at 651-296-9934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.