Everything from bullying to daycare unions was discussed this past Friday afternoon at the Lions Club community center in Morgan when District 16 Sen. Gary Dahms and District 16B Rep. Paul Torkelson held the first of several town hall meetings in the district.
The legislators, who represent the area, allowed those in attendance to determine what was discussed, as after a brief welcome opened the meeting for public questions.
One of the first questions asked had to do with the atmosphere in St. Paul.
Can legislators from the two parties agree on anything?
“There is a lot of legislation passed you never hear about, because the media doesn’t report on it,” said Dahms. “I would say 75-80 percent of the bills pass with bipartisan agreement.”
Many of the smaller bills, such as those dealing with topics, such as drainage, actually pass unanimously through both legislative bodies, Torkelson said, but because they are not as exciting or controversial they do not get the same attention.
No, added Torkelson, legislators do not have their boxing gloves on all of the time.
One of the issues are farmers are going to want ot keep an eye on, said Torkelson is a new storage bill that would require sales tax on material being stored. While the tax does not include ag commodities, those who pay storage for other things would be required to pay sales tax on those materials.
Another topic was the creation of a daycare union, and according to Dahms and Tork-elson a vote is going to be taking place soon that would impact those daycare providers who utilize the childcare assistance program.
The issue, said Dahms, is the majority of daycare providers in the state do not want to join a union, especially those who are the only employee of their daycare business.
What is concerning, said Dahms, is it only takes a 30 percent approval vote of those eligible voters who cast a ballot to determine whether or not a union could be established for daycare providers.
Details of the all-day every day kindergarten mandate were also discussed, as the state picks up the tab for that program. The issue is school districts would have to pay for the added costs beyond what the state covers.