Erik Simonson, DFL-Duluth, represents District 7 in the Minnesota Senate. He may be contacted at (651) 296-4188.
- Member for
- 3 years 9 months
Our future depends on sustainable development. That just happens to be my own personal opinion. I will let you come to your own conclusion as to what sustainable means, but simply put, we ought to focus on business and community practices that don't jeopardize the future. That's pretty vague, but you can get the idea. Does it mean that we can only have "green" technology or that we all must shop for organic foods? No, but it does presume that we are all a part of this together and that by working together we can all be better off. As a community, we have some work to do.
November has come. Soon it will be Thanksgiving, then Christmas, and before we know it the New Year will have come and gone. Soon it will be time to return to St. Paul and get down to the business of legislating. Or will it? Signs are indicating the potential for a very strange session in 2016. First of all, we don't convene until March. That leaves just 10 weeks to accomplish everything, and 10 weeks in legislative time isn't very long at all. Now the late start has something to do with the fact that the State Capitol is under a complete renovation and is closed to the public.
Change. Is it something to fear? Or perhaps something to embrace? We seem to all have different levels of change that are acceptable. Some will foster change and others will oppose any possible hint of change. For me, it has developed into a test of principles. I tend to generally oppose change that violates my core values and I suspect most of us would. Beyond that, I try to keep an undeveloped judgment. But sometimes ... change can be an incredibly powerful and necessary action. We should remain open to fresh ideas, or even a resurgence of previous ones.
Is ranked-choice voting (RCV) coming to Duluth? We will find out come November, when the question will be on the ballot for Duluth voters to decide. We have an opportunity to change our local election process for the better and we can improve the overall campaign atmosphere in the process. I have seen that there are some who are somewhat concerned or hesitant about RCV. I admit I was, too, at first. But when you consider the benefits and some of the complications we can resolve, it truly is an advantageous voting system.
Duluth is blessed with many incredible treasures that we all can be very proud of. From the shores along the great Lake Superior, to the vast hills and ridges encompassing Skyline Drive, there is truly something for everyone to enjoy and to appreciate. Thanks to the Duluth City Council for all of its efforts to help Spirit Mountain continue to be a premier attraction in Northeastern Minnesota. I believe it is critical to consider that the business model of Spirit Mountain cannot truly be considered a constant and self-sustaining one.
Climate change ... Is it real? It depends on whom you ask. Everyone has an opinion and some are based on facts, some are based on pure fiction and a few seem to be a mixture of both. With all the discussion revolving around the use of fossil fuels, it may be a very important discussion to be having and supporting with actual facts. Perhaps the strongest argument against a problematic climate change is the fact that in the history of the earth, climate change is without a doubt somewhat cyclical. You can find scientific evidence of warming, cooling and everything in-between.
Divided government failed to deliver for Minnesota. Oh, anyone can claim victories here and there, but most of those are small, non-controversial and supported along bipartisan lines. But make no mistake, the Minnesota Legislature failed Minnesota in a huge way in 2015. Water under the proverbial bridge now, but Minnesota voters should examine why there was such a massive failure in light of nearly a $2 billion surplus. First of all, voters may take note there are 201 elected members of the legislature plus an elected governor representing the executive branch.
I sincerely hope Duluth is following what is happening with the proposed Edison charter high school. And knowing Duluth, I am confident the answer is yes. But for those who may have missed the latest news, a refresher is perhaps warranted. Some years back, you may recall the great debate over our public school system here in ISD 709. After a sometimes contentious discussion, the public school board of ISD 709 approved what became known as the Red Plan. Part of that plan included consolidating our three high schools into two and Duluth Central High School was closed.
Diversifying Minnesota's energy generation is a smart step toward a prosperous future. It wasn't all that long ago that our state was toward the bottom in terms of both conservation and clean energy consumption. Think back to 2007, when Minnesota passed the renewable energy standard (RES), signed into law by then-Gov. Pawlenty. It was a remarkable step toward preserving Minnesota's future, putting into law policies designed to shift power generation toward a more environmentally sound practice. That was less than 10 years ago and Minnesota's wind and solar industries have exploded.
For the Minnesota Legislature, the next seven weeks will define the 2014 session. How we react to a significant budget surplus can and will set the course for Minnesota's future. While the final budget for the next biennium still is largely unknown, we do have a sense of the options laid out. Governor Dayton has proposed an aggressive investment in Minnesota's future. Spending new monies on K-12 and higher education is not only popular but critical to our success as a state.