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Jumping into the role of legislator

I am now concluding my first month representing the Duluth residents who elected me to the District 7B seat in November. As a freshman legislator, the learning curve is steep! The first weeks of each session are packed with informational hearings. Legislators are given detailed briefings on the background and function of many state government agencies and programs. There are constantly new things to learn. I am more confident than ever that if we work together, we can help the state take positive steps in the right direction for Duluth.

I’m passionate about Duluth, and these first weeks have given me great opportunities to see the ways we must continue fighting to improve quality of life for working families in Duluth and across the state. The very first action signed into law by this Legislature included over $20 million in tax cuts for middle class Minnesotans who will benefit by having their Minnesota returns conformed to the federal tax filing system. (It is called ‘tax conformity’ by people at the Capitol).

However, the swift bipartisan action on tax cuts set the stage for a more divided political debate on health insurance premiums. I support Gov. Dayton’s plan to provide immediate relief to the 125,000 Minnesotans whose premiums have been soaring on the individual health insurance market. This plan would buy down individual premiums by 25 percent immediately, instead of pushing those rebates out until 2018 and incorporating uncertain insurance market reforms, as Republican legislative leaders have proposed. The plan Republicans passed last week also allows insurance company to issue policies that don’t cover basic services like cancer screenings and pregnancy care. Such risky policies are not a good idea if the goal is improving health. I believe families on the individual market would benefit most from immediate relief, while we leave the debate on long-term reform to continue as the session progresses.

I see my role as your state representative as a servant to the public to help make connections between people and government that will spur ideas and growth, and also solve problems. Throughout this legislative session there will be several ways to connect. I will be sending email updates for which you can register by going to my website at house.mn/7b. Here you’ll find information about legislative votes, upcoming town halls and community events. Also you can connect with our entire Duluth legislative team at our upcoming town hall 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 18 in the Celebration Room of the Duluth Children’s Museum, 115 S. 29th Ave. W. We will be hosting Minnesota Management and Budget staff to discuss our state budgeting process and the governor’s budget priorities.

Hearing directly from you is the most important way for me to bring your ideas to the halls of the Capitol, and this year I’ve already authored several bills to put those ideas into action. They address several ongoing needs that will benefit the city of Duluth. We are seeking bonding dollars needed to finish projects that should be underway, but haven’t been able to proceed because of the Legislature’s inability to finish the people’s work in a timely manner. Another bill I have authored would expand the geographical region of our "half and half" tourism tax for the Western corridor to benefit also the Lincoln Park neighborhood.

It is an honor to serve you at the Capitol, and I encourage you to contact me at (651) 296-4246 or Rep.Liz.Olson@house.mn with questions or concerns on any issue. You can also send mail to Rep. Liz Olson, 221 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, St. Paul MN, 55155.

Liz Olson

Liz Olson represents District 7B in the Minnesota House. 

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