Roger Reinert is a Duluth resident.
- Member for
- 3 years 9 months
A recent story on National Public Radio focused on the relationship between a decline in church attendance across the United States and the rise of American nationalist sentiments. Surprisingly, the rise came predominantly from people who consider themselves faith-based but don’t regularly attend a church.
One of the things I wanted to do with more free time after I left the Legislature was to get back on the stage. I’ve always enjoyed theater and have had the opportunity to act in a few productions. Little did I suspect the opportunity would come along so quickly. In February, I was part of an original one-act play at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, “Children of the Holocaust.” I played Anne Frank’s father, Otto.
It's a time of transition — for me, personally, and for our state and country as well. Transition and change can be uncomfortable, even scary. But I have always found comfort and inspiration in the concepts upon which our democracy was founded. That continues to hold true because those concepts and ideals continue to be relevant today. You could argue the real genius of what was created in the 1700s wasn't a document, or specific structures of government, but rather a dynamic and living system with enough flexibility that it could be continually challenged and be tested.
The end of the year is fast approaching. I don't know yet if there will be a special session addressing the undone tax and bonding bills, and the now-looming crisis for those needing health care premium relief. What I do know is that in a few weeks my public service will come to an end. After five years on the City Council, and eight in the Legislature, I'll return to life as a private citizen. This will be the last time I write in the Budgeteer with a title after my name.
The rising cost of health care has proven unbearable for Minnesotans who obtain coverage through the individual market but are ineligible for subsidies. Health insurance companies providing coverage in this market have raised premium rates by 50-67 percent. This increase does not impact all. If you have coverage through an employer, you're likely not seeing these rates. And if you are in the individual market and receiving subsidies, you'll receive additional help with the costs.
While sometimes it seems like we have surpassed many of the "firsts" in society, last week there was a new — and significant — first. Anne McKeig, a Native American, took her spot on the Minnesota Supreme Court. This is significant progress for the face of justice in Minnesota and will stand long into the future. Gov. Mark Dayton announced he was naming McKeig to the state Supreme Court back in June. Last week she went through her "robing" ceremony and stepped into her new role as a member of the now majority-female Minnesota Supreme Court.
In a few weeks, Duluth Public Schools will invite 66 4-year-olds into two new pre-K classrooms. The expansion arrives thanks to a $409,000 state grant to provide additional high-quality pre-K programming to kids across the state. It's part of Gov. Mark Dayton's initiative, supported by the Minnesota Senate, to help close the achievement gap by ensuring kids have the skills necessary to succeed when they begin kindergarten.
In 2008, a very important binational agreement, the Great Lakes Compact, was made between eight northern states and two Canadian provinces. Passed by Congress, the agreement between Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York, as well as Ontario and Quebec, was a way to safeguard the greatest body of freshwater lakes in the world and to ensure only communities within the Great Lakes basin could withdraw water from the lakes.
The 2016 legislative session ended more than a month ago. Since then, tensions between Gov. Mark Dayton and some legislative leaders have only seemed to grow. Last week, talks that legislative leaders had with the governor appeared to be moving — if anything — away from any kind of compromise deal. It's a bit of a deja-vu moment for Minnesotans.
It's hard to believe, but we are already nearly halfway done with the 2016 legislative session. It has been a fast and furious pace this year. The pace and timing has forced legislators, staff, interest groups and constituents to be both disciplined and realistic about what can be accomplished in this very narrow window. While challenging, I am reminded that for nearly the first 125 years of Minnesota state history, the Legislature was truly part-time and only met for five months every two years.