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Town Hall Meetings 2015

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

This past Saturday, I concluded two weekends of town meetings across Senate District 20.  Both Representative Bob Vogel (20A) and Representative David Bly (20B) accompanied me in their respective town meetings in libraries and restaurants in the eight communities we visited.  We enjoyed hearing from constituents as they provided input on the policy and budget issues we are discussing here at the midpoint of the 2015 legislative session.

Good dialogue on wide ranging topics were held.  Folks shared their thoughts on the budget surplus, health care, education, property taxes, and buffer zones on agricultural land.  We talked about pensions, climate change, renewable energy standards, and the scope of government.  A young teacher from New Prague passionately expressed his opposition to the “last in first out” legislation which he viewed as another attack on his profession.  Nursing home workers from LeSueur implored the legislature to fix the nursing home funding inequities that exist in our state.  Others argued for the need for a reasonable funding solution to fixing our roads and bridges and the state’s long term transportation needs.

I always enjoy face to face meetings.  In nearly every instance, pointed questions moved easily to productive dialogue and a better understanding of shared concerns.  Democrats, Republicans, and Independents left the meeting with handshakes and thank yous, with better insight on our positions and thoughts on the issues of the day or how the legislative process works.

I thank those community members who took the time to stop by to share their thoughts and concerns.  I look forward to our next meeting.

2015 Session

Friday, January 9th, 2015

Welcome back.  For several years I wrote about my experiences at the state Capitol on my website, “Mr. Dahle Goes to St. Paul.”  I am planning to crank it up again as we start the 89th session of the Minnesota legislature.  Look to this site to hear what is going on at the State Capitol and my thoughts and analysis of the session, the legislative process, and my daily experiences as a State Senator.

The Senate gavel came dropped at noon on Tuesday, January 6.  Newly elected Lt. Governor Tina Smith opened the session.  It will be an interesting two years as we pass the next biennial budget.  While Governor Dayton remains in the Governor’s office, we will be working with a newly elected Republican House.  I am hopeful we can pass a progressive budget with good policy for Minnesotans across the state.

Education is always an important focus of my agenda.  One of the larger slices of the state budget, there are several initiatives for education in the upcoming session.  Yesterday, we heard from over 30 stakeholders in the Education committee that I serve on. They presented their legislative agendas and “wish lists” and priorities for the upcoming session.  In addition, the Senate rolled out its first 6 bills of the session.  Three of the six were education related.  One bill would expand free Pre-K education for all pre-schoolers enrolled in our public schools. This builds on the full funding of all day every day kindergarten we passed in the last session, emphasizing the importance of investing in our children early to ensure success later.  In addition, another bill introduced yesterday would offer tuition free 2 Year College through our MNSCU system.  This is a product of our discussions over the past few years to concentrate on work force development to help the business community’s need for skilled workers.  Another bill would help students “earn while they learn” which would provide academic credit for high schoolers who partner with local employers for vocational training.

I introduced legislation that will extend the Alternative facilities program to all school districts, which will establish a new long-term facilities maintenance revenue program to replace the current alternative facilities, deferred maintenance and health and safety revenue programs to provide adequate, equitable, and sustainable long-term maintenance funding for all school district statewide.  This recommendation was a result of a School facilities financing working group which concluded it’s work this past fall.  This will especially help rural districts in low property wealth districts like Northfield, New Prague, Belle Plaine, and Tri-City United (Montgomery, Lonsdale, LeCenter) schools.

I am excited to get to work for my constituents in Senate District 20 and for all Minnesotans.  Education is just one of our priorities this session.  I will be sharing my thoughts on other initiatives in the days and weeks ahead.

The Recount Begins

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

The Minnesota State Senate District 20 recount begins Wednesday, November 28 in those counties that make up the Senate district.  Rice County will be the site of the first recount, beginning at 8:30am on Wednesday morning.  LeSueur County will do its recount on Thursday, November 29, and Scott County will finish up on Friday morning.  Each county will finish their recounts the same day they start.  We should know the results of the 3 county recounts by noon on Friday, Nov. 30.

Every person 18 years of age or older who is a United States citizen residing in the State of Minnesota for more than 20 days prior to an election has a constitutional right to vote.  It is imperative that those observing the recount keep in mind that we are protecting a constitutional right that each citizen and qualified voter has in this state.  Nothing is more important to a democratic system of government.

The notion that the state ultimately must respect the intent of the voter is derived from this constitutional right of the voter.  A voter exercising his or her elective franchise has a right to express their choice.  Having a vote on a ballot count need not depend on exactly following the rules or format that a state legislature, Secretary of State, or some election official prescribes.  Hence, the touchstone and the biggest factor of voting in Minnesota is that if the voter intends to vote for a candidate, that intent will be honored.   

The Minnesota State Canvassing Board met today, November 27, certifying the results of the November 6 election across the nation and state. That certification also triggered the automatic recount since the Senate District 20 race ended within the one half of one percent difference in the final vote tally.  The uncertified Election Day results: Kevin Dahle: 20, 628 votes or 50.03%.  Mike Dudley: 20,550 votes or 49.84%.

The County Auditor acts as the chief Recount official in the counties represented in the Senate District.  Each ballot box, sealed since election night, contains ballots, envelopes, voter registration sign in sheets, lists for absentee ballot voters, and the “tape” from the night of the election for optical scan counting equipment and other materials used on Election Day.  The Recount official will begin by opening the boxes, reviewing the summary statements and comparing them to the numbers on the tape.

The 41,000 plus ballots are then counted precinct by precinct.  At each table there will be a Recount official and a re-counter for each candidate.  The Recount official will open the sealed envelopes containing the ballots and recount them by hand.  The Recount official begins by assembling ballots for Dahle, Dudley, other write-ins, blank ballots, and defective ballots.  It is during this time that any ballots may be challenged by observers from either candidate.  Challenges may not be automatic or frivolous and the challenger must state a basis for the challenge.  Those ballots that are challenged will be marked by the Recount official indicating the precinct number where the ballot is from, the name of the person challenging the ballot and the basis of the challenge.  Eventually, all challenged ballots will be forwarded to the State Canvassing Board (SCB).  The final fate of the challenged ballots will be made by the SCB at their meeting in December.

After the Franken-Coleman recount, the Emmer-Dayton recount, both statewide recounts involving millions of votes, we learned the importance of having a voting system in place that is based on efficiency and integrity.  We also learned, once again, how important every vote is in determining who will represent us at all levels of government.  Our system of choosing a representative government, a republic works. We are confident that this recount will reaffirm that principle.

The Highs and Lows of Campaigning

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

Door knocking is an integral part of any campaign season.  Candidates head out after their regular jobs during the week and on weekends to the towns and cities that make up their legislative district.  I prefer door knocking to phone calling, enjoying the chance to introduce myself, shake a few hands, and state my case for election in November.

People ask me if I run into any constituents who are “less than friendly?”  I’ve certainly experienced a few people who were less than excited to see me at the door with a clipboard and a handful of campaign literature.  I certainly am guilty of interrupting a family’s supper, Gopher football game, tomato canning, or even Junior’s bath time. However, most people are very friendly.  Most people appreciate the fact that I am interested in their vote and that I show up on their door step.  On a few extremely hot days, several have graciously offered me a glass of water.

A few weeks ago in one of the nearby towns in Senate District 20, I knocked on a door and a middle aged man greeted me with, “Republican or Democrat?”  When I kindly responded, “Yes!” he inquired further, “Which one?”  When I said I was endorsed by the DFL party, he said no thanks and closed the door.   At the next house, a gentleman was outside watering some plants.  Before I could say hello, he told me to get the hell off his yard.  He didn’t have time for “any politicians.”  I said, “You seem a little frustrated,” looking for an opening for some civil discourse.  Looking me over apprehensively, he decided to share his concerns.  We talked for the next 15 minutes and at the end of our conversation he asked for a piece of my literature.  He said he would look it over. We shook hands and I proceeded down the street to the next house.

The next day, I received an email from the man who told me to “get off his yard.”  He thanked me for letting him “blow off some steam.”  He commented that anyone willing to take an earful from an angry constituent couldn’t be half bad.  After looking at my literature and my website, he was satisfied that I had the best interests of constituents in mind.  He said he would probably vote for me November 6.

Of course, I would rather receive a pleasant smile at the door than an angry “earful” but this particular meeting turned out to be one of my most rewarding door knocking encounters of this long campaign season.

Elko New Market

Sunday, June 10th, 2012

Theresa Marie Drive, Dorothy Lane, Francis Lane, Tammy Drive, Jean Way, and Holly Court.  It’s not very often we visit a city with streets named after women, but Elko New Market pays tribute to more than the usual avenues of Presidents, trees, letters, and numbers I usually walk as I hit the doors while campaigning.  I was happy to visit this town of just over 4000, the newest addition to Senate District 20.  While this particular “new neighborhood” offered few mature trees as shade on a hot and steamy Saturday, the people I visited offered a friendly face and an appreciation for the brief visit as I introduced myself and my campaign.  Understandably, many people are still undecided about who they might vote for in an election nearly 5 months away.  But others are quick to offer an assessment on the current state of affairs.  As one gentleman put it, “You know the current legislature is pretty screwed up?” I paused for a second and offered a response before I headed off to the next house, “I guess that’s why I am running.   I would appreciate your support.”

Vote Kevin Dahle 2012