As I begin my last session in St Paul, I have lots of thoughts and memories going through my head. The atmosphere and working relationships have certainly changed since I first took my oath of office in January 2013.  But the desire to govern in the way each of us thinks is best is still strong. 


In the last 12 years, laws being passed under the current leadership have gotten away from the idea that strong personal rights will lead to more success and stronger communities. Instead, it has been replaced with the idea that government needs to not only be involved but direct the solutions to all our problems.  When I was young, I was encouraged to evaluate and resolve my own problems.  It made me stronger and better able to deal with problems in the future.  Today we seem too often to encourage people to look to the government for the answers and to provide the solutions.  This, of course, only leads to dependency on the government.  Yes, letting people struggle with their problems can be messy, but it allows for such great diversity and inner strengths benefitting the entire community.


COVID also changed the legislature, and it has made us all lazier.  Closing the state and ultimately the legislature allowed for too many to not take seriously the job they were elected to do, namely, to be in St Paul to be the voice of the people back home.  Some legislators are still wanting to vote from home.  During COVID, leadership was convinced that they needed to limit debate and limit public input because of convenience and time restrictions, but bills need to be vetted thoroughly with public involvement and as much transparency as possible.  Even today, years after COVID, we find our procedures and policies for committee meetings to be very restrictive and limiting for any public involvement.  Laws should not be easy to pass, they should require thorough vetting and input from stakeholders.  Passing laws without adequate public input or open transparency just because you have the votes is not good for this State and usually leads to poor legislation. 


I long for the days when debate on the House floor was about discussing differences of opinion. Today, the debate seems more about attack and confrontation. I miss the days when people entertained the idea that they may not know everything and that other points of view could have merit. We shortchange ourselves when we consider listening and learning from others as a sign of weakness instead of wisdom and strength. 


Whereas the process may be flawed today – and I will not miss that – I will, however, miss many of the people, both Republican and Democrat.  My hopes and prayers for this session are ones of common sense and realistic understanding of all parties.  We don’t need to agree on everything, but we can listen respectfully. 


We have a full three plus months to do the work we were elected to do, and I will be doing my very best here in St Paul feeling blessed that I was given this opportunity to serve this community.

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