Monthly Archives

September 2009

The Next Governor

By | Economy, Education, Energy, Health Care | No Comments

Even though the election is over a year away, the race for Governor is in full swing. I have had several calls from candidates and have enjoyed lunch or a cup of coffee with a numerous others, looking for support. Politicians from both parties have declared their candidacy, started exploratory campaigns, or are still considering a run for the right to succeed Tim Pawlenty as Minnesota’s 40th Governor.

How do you decide at this point? With 15- 20 candidates in the ring you wonder how one candidate can get enough momentum to carry them to the endorsing conventions next spring followed by a real possibility of a primary election. No doubt, these candidates are working hard. I see them at parades and fundraisers in towns like Montgomery and Gaylord, all trying to meet the party faithful and raise the dollars necessary for a statewide campaign.

There are some excellent candidates for Governor. You have your choice of women and men, out state or metro, with experiences ranging from former U.S Senators, the Speaker of the House, former and current legislators, prosecutors, and big city mayors. Some have been running for years while others wait to announce.

What does Minnesota hope to find in its next Governor? We need a governor who puts Minnesota first, someone willing to work with the House and Senate regardless of party labels. He or she must consider all options for resolving a budget deficit seeking long term solutions. Those solutions should involve job creation, investment in our infrastructure –our roads, bridges, and improved transit serving both metro and out state Minnesota. Education must be a top priority for the next Governor. An innovative, resourceful, and educated workforce becomes a reality by investing in our early childhood programs, K-12, and our colleges and Universities. The next Governor should welcome health care reform and show the nation that Minnesota can be a leader, rather than a follower; in making sure all Minnesotans have access to quality care. The next governor must pay attention to our energy and environmental needs now and in the future, crafting policy that reflects the needs of our rural and urban landscape. A great communicator with real leadership and passion would be frosting on the cake.

That’s a tall order. But with this many candidates, we should be able to weed out the very best and brightest of all of them. I’ll be listening. I will be asking questions. Stay tuned. A candidate for Governor will be coming soon to an event near you.

Bonding Committee Visit

By | Economy, Rice County, Transportation | No Comments

I’d like to extend a note of thanks to the people and local officials in our area who extended their hospitality to members of the Minnesota Senate Capitol Investment Committee, who recently came to Northfield as part of a regional tour to consider plans for improvements and new construction at a number of sites.

The Senate group gathered in Northfield for a presentation by Minnesota Department of Transportation officials detailing that agency’s statewide proposals. I had an opportunity to speak to the group about our $520,000 bonding proposal to help finance a new transit station and Park & Ride. The proposed facility provides several amenities in one location. With the proposed Laurel Court site, it would provide easy access to Minnesota Highways 19 & 3. The location also provides connections to Mill Towns Trail, bike paths, and sidewalks providing interconnectivity throughout the City of Northfield. In addition, it would provide a convenient future connection for commuters to and from the Twin Cities and Rochester areas.

I know that the senators who visited our area appreciated the warm welcome they were given, as well as a good first-hand look at our proposals.

Fired Up and Ready to Go

By | Health Care | No Comments

Yesterday, I stood on the floor of the Target Center listening to President Obama, standing 20 feet away; speak on the need for health care reform. It was vintage Obama: a truly inspiring speech with a great message. “I am not the first President to talk about health care reform, but I will be the last!” The crowd in attendance roared their approval throughout the speech, which was not surprising. Who could argue the points made clear by this President, making the Twin Cities his first stop after addressing a joint session of Congress and the nation on health care a few nights ago?
• Americans should not be denied access to health care due to a pre-existing condition.
• Persons should not be dropped by their insurance company when they become ill.
• If we lose our job we should not lose our health insurance.
• The rising costs of health care have dwarfed the real increases in wages and inflation.
Over the past several months I have wondered where the supporters of health care reform have been. Well, nearly 17,000 of them showed up in Minneapolis on a beautiful Saturday morning to voice their support for something other than the status quo. Obama reiterated, “The time for games is passed. Now is the time for action. Now is the time to deliver on health care for every American.” We left the Target Center “fired up and ready to go.”

Honoring Labor on Labor Day

By | Economy | No Comments

“Labor was the first price, the original purchase-money that was paid for all things. It was not by gold or by silver, but by labor, that all wealth of the world was originally purchased.” ~Adam Smith

Today we observe Labor Day, one last vacation day signaling the end of summer and the start of the school year for many. Unfortunately, many people forget the true meaning of the original Labor Day celebration, a recognition of the contributions of organized labor in this country. The first Labor Day in the United States was celebrated on September 5, 1882 in New York City. Several years later, in the aftermath of the deaths of a number of workers at the hands of the U.S. military during the 1894 Pullman Strike, President Grover Cleveland put reconciliation with Labor as a top political priority. Fearing further conflict, legislation making Labor Day a national holiday was rushed through Congress unanimously and signed into law six days after the end of the strike.
But what have labor unions done for America over the last 100 years? Here is a brief list of benefits that have been brought to you by the efforts of organized labor: health benefits, health and dental insurance, unemployment insurance, workers compensation, safer worksites, 40 hour workweek and 8 hour days, overtime pay, grievance procedures, minimum wage, social security, pension plans, paid vacation and holidays, paid maternity and paternity leaves, adoption leaves. Unions have successfully defended workers against unfair accusations on the job, unfair labor practices, and attacks on the collective bargaining process. Unions were significant force in America’s quest for public education and for civil and voting rights in this country. And the work is far from done. Unions still look after the needs and rights of workers and provide them with quality training so they can work safely and productively.
I have been a member of a union for over 25 years. Today I salute my fellow brothers and sisters who work every day to put food on the table, support their families, and live the American dream. You deserve a day of rest.