Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Representative Steve Gottwalt's (15-A) Report from the MN Legislature

Dear Neighbor:

I just returned to my office from the House Floor here at your State Capitol in St. Paul. I joined my colleagues in the House of Representatives as we took our solemn oath of office to begin the 86th Session of the Minnesota Legislature. It is a deep honor and privilege to serve as your State Representative, and I will continue to do my very best for our area, and for the great state of Minnesota. We face unprecedented challenges as we work together to balance a state budget that is nearly $5 billion in deficit, while meeting priority needs for our state.

Today, as promised, I have signed on as co-author of a bill that would lift Minnesota's moratorium on considering development of new nuclear energy. We need new, clean, safe and inexpensive nuclear energy, and have had our heads in the sand for too long. I am co-authoring a bill removing the bad, eleventh hour changes made last session to the Green Acres program -- changes that would cost landowners in my district hundreds of thousands of dollars. I expect that will be one of the first measures approved this session. I have also co-authored a bill that would return dollars to the State Airports Fund that were inadvertently transferred to help balance the budget last year. The City of St. Cloud had to cover those funds intended for airport terminal expansion, and needs to have those funds returned.

Although we face a nearly $5 billion budget deficit, this is also an opportunity to re-think state government -- its priorities, size, scope, outcomes and efficiencies. I will also work with our local units of government to identify areas in which the state can help relieve the local burden. These include avenues for intergovernmental cooperation, joint delivery of services, elimination of burdensome and unfunded mandates, and more. We need everyone's creative input and energies to solve the current and long-term challenges facing Minnesota! I welcome your input throughout the year, especially during the legislative session, and will announce a series of local Town Hall meetings in the next few days.

Here are the committees to which I have been assigned. They reflect closely the priorities I heard from you and other constituents during this fall's campaign: Economic development for jobs creation and economic recovery; the pressing need for real, sustainable health care reform; and the need for government reform, efficiency and integrity of our elections.

● Bioscience and Workforce Development Policy & Oversight Division
(on which I will be the Minority Lead)
● Health Care and Human Services Finance Division
● Health Care and Human Services Policy and Oversight Committee
● State and Local Government Operations Reform, Technology & Elections

I have also been recommended for re-appointment to the legislature's Health Care Access Commission, providing leadership for real health care reform.

Tomorrow, in addition to committee meetings, I will meet with Governor Pawlenty to discuss priorities for this session, and how we can work to solve the state's budget woes without increasing the tax burden. I will continue to keep you informed about what I see happening here at your State Legislature. Please keep in touch, and continue to let me know how I can help!

Sincerely in service,

Rep. Steve Gottwalt
House District 15A
St. Cloud, Waite Park, St. Augusta and Rockville