I support universal access to health care. I support a MinnesotaCare buy-in to allow farmers and small business owners the chance at affordable care. Heath care costs are out of control in this country due to the several tier system of delivery and the overuse of care by consumers. Where else do you purchase a "product" but have no idea what that product will cost you?
I support cracking down on pharmaceutical companies who are gauging our seniors and our most vulnerable neigbors. When the drug Lipitor costs on average $124 in the U.S. and only $6 in New Zealand, we have a problem. A hip replacement in this country will run you about $40,364. In Switzerland, the same procedure costs $7,731 (2014 averages)!
In the long term, however, we must get a handle on the general cost of procedures and prescription drugs. Current costs are simply unsustainable for Minnesotans and even the insurance companies.
E-12: One of the legislature's most fundamental duties is to make sure our public schools are adequately funded. As a school board member, I understand how crucial this is. When schools are underfunded, the burden is placed on children and their communities, who are left with the responsibility to either cut their own programs or raise their own taxes. This is fiscally irresponsible. I will make sure school funding meets the needs of ALL school districts.
Higher ed: Create better pathways to career and college beginning at an early age. Encourage and promote partnerships among community colleges and businesses to make sure our students are well-trained and positioned to succeed in the workforce. Support our public colleges and universities, while helping to relieve the massive student debt burden faced by thousands of college graduates in Minnesota.
With our roads and bridges in desperate need of repair, Southeast Minnesota deserves a comprehensive and sustainable transportation funding plan. Every option should be on the table, however, we cannot continue to shift money and play games with our public safety. There are 50 structurally deficient bridges in Fillmore and Houston counties. The average age of all deficient bridges is 77 years. This is completely unacceptable and there must be leadership in St. Paul willing to tackle this problem.
Rural Development & Sustainability
Rural Broadband: High speed internet access is essential to operate effectively in a 21st century economy. Minnesota must invest in its rural communities by connecting them with the rest of the world by way of the internet. Current representation at the state legislature slashed rural broadband funding. I believe we need to go in the other direction. Residents of Houston and Fillmore counties should have equally as fast and accessible internet as those in the metropolitan areas enjoy.
Farming: Agriculture is one of the main economic drivers of our region. In order to continue our success we must reverse the trend of fewer and fewer farmers on fewer individual farms. Family farms, like the one I grew up on, are key to the economic viability of our region. Let's make sure land is accessible to young farmers and young families who want to make a decent living, while caring for the land in a way that would make our grandchildren proud.
Arts & Culture: The legislature must support local arts and culture funding. In towns like Lanesboro, which has blossomed as one of the most influential arts centers in Minnesota, the arts have become a way of attracting human and financial capital.
I am a supporter of the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. I also believe our system needs to do a better job of keeping guns out of the hands of terrorists and criminals. Simply enforcing laws already on the books could prevent the murder of innocent people in America each and every day. I believe in responsible gun ownership. I have a long history of supporting gun safety and teaching the proper use of firearms. As a school board member, I voted to form the Spring Grove Trap Shooting team, which has gone on to rank high in state-wide trap shooting competitions.
Regarding public shootings, especially school shootings. It's just a matter of time before every American will be directly affected by gun violence.
No kid should go to school worried about being shot and no teacher should have to be prepared to take a bullet for our children. Those in power who say there is nothing we can do to prevent these tragedies are complicit. Every act of gun violence requires different solutions, not all having to do with firearms, and there is not one magic solution. I will say that our legislators have no idea what it takes to secure our school buildings and how much it costs. I will support safe schools funding. I fully support universal background checks. When it comes to other individual gun legislation, I will be consulting with my constituents before voting on any of these complex issues. We can both protect innocent children and preserve the rights of responsible gun owners.
We only have access to one habitable planet, let's make sure we take care of it. Our natural home here in Southeast Minnesota provides us with great economic and aesthetic benefits, that allow us to enjoy our land and our waters. Our rolling hills, streams, and hardwood forests must be maintained for future generations. As a state legislator, I will make sure our local units of government, as well as our state agencies in charge of environmental protections, have the tools necessary to protect our natural resources for generations to come.
Expand earned paid and sick leave for all Minnesotans. Working parents deserve to spend time with their newborns without going broke. This is not only good for our youngest citizens, it's simply the right thing to do.
Support a 28th Amendment
The root of many evils in our politics is the influence of BIG money over the interests of the people. It's easy for politicians to be bought and sold to the highest bidder. Politicians need to begin working for the people they represent, NOT for big corporations and unions.