Why are you running for state representative?
I have always had a keen interest in public policy. I have enjoyed my work in the legislature and I feel that I have more to offer by continuing my public service. My experience gives me a base of knowledge about my constituents and I strive to represent them to the best of my ability. Over the past 10 years in the Minnesota House I have worked hard to establish my reputation and used my experience to become an effective legislator. If the voters of 16B are kind enough to re-elect me this fall I stand ready to represent them.
From your perspective, what is the role of a state representative?
Every member of the legislature takes an oath to support the Constitution of the United States, the constitution of this state, and to discharge faithfully the duties of his office to the best of his judgment and ability. We are elected by the citizens of our district to be their voice in the legislature. We have a duty to do our best to understand how legislation affects our constituents and promote their best interests. It is important for us to be aware that we are state representatives and remember that the work we do often impacts the entire state.
Do you think the current buffer rule is the best solution for water quality? If so, why? If not, how would you resolve it?
The current buffer law is the result of an initiative from Governor Dayton who originally proposed taking strips of land 50 feet wide on both sides of our ditches and waterways out of production for wildlife habitat and water quality. Republicans in cooperation with a coalition of ag groups were successful in focusing the law only on water quality, reducing the requirements dramatically and eliminating private ditches. We also added allowances for a variety of alternative practices that offer land owners additional flexibility. I will support additional changes that would appropriately compensate land owners and focus on water quality improvement.
How would you solve transportation funding issues facing the state of Minnesota?
Minnesota needs to put more money toward transportation and that is exactly what we did in the last biennium, my first biennium as Chairperson of the Transportation Finance Committee. I would propose that we build on the work we started last year by utilizing more of the sales tax revenues generated by the sale of auto parts and repairs. I am committed to passing a substantial bill every budget cycle because failure to do so results in transportation funding lagging behind other budget areas. Allocation should include predictable support of local infrastructure and emphasize efficiency and safety throughout the system.
Do you believe the state’s economy is heading in the right direction? Why or why not?
In many ways the economy is doing very well. We enjoy low unemployment and it is predicted that we will start 2019 with a budget surplus here in Minnesota. Unfortunately, agriculture is suffering from low commodity prices that in many cases do not even cover the cost of production. There is also evidence that our high tax climate is resulting in wealthy individuals moving out of Minnesota and businesses choosing other states for new development. Additionally, Minnesota has a reputation of over-regulation that makes it difficult for employers to expand and thrive.
Other than the above issues what do you think is the most significant issue facing the constituency you would represent, and how would you best represent them?
The recent news that many health insurance premiums will be reduced is a step in the right direction, but the combination of high premiums and deductibles has resulted in Minnesotans without insurance. We must explore affordable options for everyone. We must correct the 7 percent cut imposed on the providers of care in group homes. We need to pass a tax bill that accommodates the changes at the Federal level. I agree with those who are calling for an end to lengthy omnibus-omnibus bills. This approach has been used by both sides of the aisle and the legislature should put a stop to it.
My wife, Cindy, and I live on Lake Hanska in Brown County. Born and raised in Watonwan County, I am a lifelong member of East Sveadahl Lutheran Church. I graduated from St. James High School and Gustavus Adolphus College. My wife is a retired elementary school teacher and we recently celebrated our 38th anniversary. We have two adult daughters. I am actively engaged in the operation of my family farm where we raise corn, soybeans and hogs on the farm first established by my great-grandfather in 1878. My committee assignments for the 2017-18 session included serving as Chair of Transportation Finance and a member of Natural Resources, Legacy, Ethics, and the Ways and Means committees. I am deeply involved in issues related to water. I serve as a member of the Clean Water Council, as Co-chair of the Legislative Water Commission and as a member of the Great Lakes Commission.