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Legislative 'team' visits Nisswa, Pequot Lakes, Breezy Point

A lakes area “team” of legislators that includes members of both political parties assured constituents they are working together at the Capital for outstate Minnesota.

“We listened at the last election when people said they were tired of partisan bickering,” District 10 state Sen. Carrie Ruud, R-Breezy Point, said at town hall forums in Nisswa, Pequot Lakes and Breezy Point on Saturday, March 2. “We are really working hard to make a great team for Greater Minnesota, because we are different from the legislators down in the Cities.

“We have to work for Greater Minnesota because we are kind of outnumbered,” Ruud said.

District 10A state Rep. John Ward, DFL-Baxter, organized the town hall meetings, which also included a stop in Brainerd. District 10B state Rep. Joe Radinovich also attended most of the forums, as did Al Doty, representing U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan’s Democratic office.

Ward said the three District 10 legislators have become a good team, acknowledging they will vote differently and have different philosophies. But they are working together for the district, he said.

Doty said the district is lucky to have a team that is ignoring party labels and working together to make things happen. It’s not always Republicans vs. Democrats as much as it is rural vs. metro, he said.

“Your job is to be sure these guys do their jobs to keep a level playing field here vs. the metro. It’s inner city, suburban ring and us in outstate Minnesota,” Doty said.

In Breezy Point, Jack Johnson of Pelican Township said, “Thank you for being friends and getting things done even though you’re from different parties.”

Regarding the state budget, the legislators said Gov. Mark Dayton likely will tweak his initial budget proposal in light of the most recent budget forecast that lowered the budget deficit.

Ruud acknowledged a proposed business to business tax would cripple businesses, and such a tax would be passed to consumers.

Ward applauded Dayton’s proposed budget, saying he’s heard of various groups liking different pieces of the budget. No one totally loves it; no one totally hates it. He said the proposed budget provides a balanced approach.

“I look forward to the dialogue,” Ward said. “Negotiations are about to start. Stay tuned.”

Other topics touched on at the town hall forums included support for marriage equality, better Internet access in rural areas, support of any legislation to help disabled veterans, support for the Mississippi Headwaters Board, a possible bill regarding counties’ options to appoint or elect officials and encouragement to support a moratorium on wolf hunting.

Look for highlights from the Nisswa, Pequot Lakes and Breezy Point town hall forums on page 7.