It’s been a busy stretch of area meetings/events lately as we prepare to return to St. Paul for the start of the 2020 legislative session Feb. 11.

Before we recap some of those gatherings, I would like to share some info regarding the American Civil Liberties Union suing the state in an attempt to take steps to ensure that felons be allowed to vote prior to completing their sentences.

To say I disagree with the ACLU’s push on this issue is a massive understatement. I am opposed to the basic premise of their lawsuit and also strongly oppose the method they are using to try to accomplish their goal of allowing felons to vote before they complete their sentences.

This is another example of bypassing the legislative process by working through bureaucrats, in this case Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon. It is a direct attack on Minnesota’s Constitution, and it is concerning that Ellison and Simon have not taken a hard stance against the ACLU. Ellison and Simon should be defending our constitution. Isn’t that basically the job description of the attorney general? They seem, once again to be writing their version of the law.

There also is the major issue of case law holding that the Minnesota Constitution does not provide private citizens the right to sue the government, but it seems Ellison and Simon are abandoning this position.

I went to Parkers Prairie to discuss irrigation issues, a Safest Way Tour event regarding the Line 3 replacement project in Park Rapids and a meeting about environmental issues in Bemidji.

The Safest Way event had a great turnout of Line 3 replacement supporters. Speakers did a nice job of talking about all the positives this project would bring, from improved safety to benefits for the local tax base, a variety of jobs with good wages, workforce training for area residents and more. The hope is the state will quit dragging its feet and other red tape will be pulled off soon so the real work can begin.

Turnout also was strong at the event pertaining to irrigation. People expressed their concern for a lack of support from the state regarding agriculture. They highlighted how the state has a bad habit of changing the rules along the way to stop projects.

In one local case, the DNR reported one farmer’s wells would have no significant impact on the local watershed, only to seemingly invent a new “cumulative impact” phrase later in the permitting process, tilting the scales in the state’s favor by changing the analytics and threatening to derail a project.

Thank you to everyone who showed up and let their voices be heard. I’m right there with you and will continue advocating for transparency in government and better customer service from the state for taxpayers.