Delivering for our area
During my first four years as your state senator, I’m proud of the strides we made—from securing funding for critical infrastructure projects to investing in the safety of our schools to quickly delivering relief aid so people could recover from summer storms. But don’t take my word for it. Take a look around and see what I’ve done and where I stand. And, as always, if you have any questions, please let me know.
bills with bipartisan support58%
Fully funding Highway 14
For more than 25 years, our region has been awaiting the funding needed to complete the four-lane expansion of U.S. Highway 14 from Owatonna to Dodge Center—and four years ago, I ran for office on a commitment to deliver funding for this critical corridor of commerce. This project was so important to me that the plates on my Dodge Ram read ‘HWY 14’! I’m so proud to say that, in my first term, I successfully secured the full funding and the project is underway.
Those of us who do live down in this neck of the woods understand the urgency full well. There is a reason Highway 14 has long been called the “Highway of Horrors,” and why it has a reputation as the most dangerous road in Minnesota. When all is said and done, Highway 14 will be significantly safer, travel times will be faster, and it will be able to handle more commuter and commercial traffic. In other words, it will be better in every conceivable respect.
Protecting our seniors
One of my priorities in the legislature has been working to protect the rights of seniors and vulnerable Minnesotans, particularly as our aging population continues to grow. I was proud to support the Elder Care and Vulnerable Adult Protection Act, which provides a host of new protections for Minnesotans living in long-term care, as well as a framework for licensing assisted living facilities and preventing retaliation. I also supported the Safe Seniors Financial Exploitation Act, which provides additional safeguards to protect against the financial exploitation of vulnerable adults. Finally, I led the way in pushing back against the governor’s proposed $68 million cut to rural nursing homes.
Investing in our communities
During my first term in office, I’m proud to have secured the necessary funding for projects important to our region.
- $30 million for the state’s disaster recovery account, which provides fast assistance to local communities recovering from natural disasters.
- $100,000 for cleanup at Roberds Lake in Faribault after last year’s devastating storms.
- Funding for veterans’ memorials in Rice County and Waseca, matching the local fundraising efforts and getting the projects closer to completion.
- $4.5 million for Minnesota State Academies for the Deaf and Blind in Faribault.
- $8 million for Business Development Public Infrastructure grants to Greater Minnesota cities to encourage growth, create and retain jobs, and build their tax base.
- $60 million for statewide local road improvement projects.
- $15 million to help repair and replace local bridges across the state.
The cost of health care continues to be a cause for stress to so many Minnesotans. Our state is home to some of the best and brightest medical minds in the country—and all Minnesotans should be able to leverage that network of care. I am proud of the work I’ve done of the past four years to make health care more affordable. After years of double-digit increases following Obamacare, our Republican-led efforts reduced the rates for those who purchase their health insurance on the individual market. As a result, we’re seeing the market stabilize and premiums become more reasonable.
But the costs don’t stop there. I was a co-author of a bill that requires Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) to disclose more cost savings information at the checkout and allows pharmacists to make sure they’re giving the patient the full range of ways to save. I also supported legislation that allows pharmacists to substitute more affordable alternative medications on behalf of patients and allows patients to synchronize their medication fill-dates once a year without cost.
I supported several pieces of landmark legislation that only improves the quality of life for all Minnesotans. I supported a bill to crack down on the opioid epidemic and provide aid-in-treatment, as well as a bill that makes sure all Minnesotans have access to lifesaving medications such as insulin, even if they cannot afford it. And I was a prominent supporter of the comprehensive elder care reform law, which gives seniors and residents of long-term care facilities additional protections and consumer rights, along with a bill that provides protections for seniors and vulnerable adults against financial exploitation.
Finally, almost 20 percent of Minnesotans struggle with some degree of mental illness. As more and more people recognize the importance of mental health treatment, I demanded and secured more resources to help Minnesotans of all ages, locations, and professions receive the mental health treatment they need.
We have great schools in our region—and I’m proud to have supported the largest investment in education in state history when we passed the state budget last year. In fact, our budget gave a significant funding boost to area schools while allocating additional funds for school safety enhancements and access to better mental health services for students. That funding increase amounted to more than $1.1 million in new funding for the Owatonna Public Schools, nearly $1 million for the Faribault Public Schools, and nearly $350,000 for Waseca Public Schools. Additionally, I supported an increase in funding to help schools cover the growing costs of special education, which has been a top priority of school administrators. Finally, I supported school safety funding that allows districts to make security upgrades and infrastructure improvements, hire school counselors and school resource officers, and more.
A four-year college degree is not for everyone—and that’s why I’ve made it a priority to expand career and technical education in our public schools. We have been able to leverage some incredible public-private partnerships at public schools across Minnesota, giving students the opportunity to receive real world, on-the-job training for a variety of careers—giving our students a leg up before they even graduate high school.
Finally, I supported millions more in dedicated funding for Minnesota’s higher education institutions, including funding for Riverland Community College in Owatonna and South Central College in Faribault.
Whether for sport or self-defense, we are guaranteed the right to bear arms by the U.S. Constitution. I strongly believe in the Second Amendment, including the importance of being able to safely operate a firearm. I support legislation to expand the ‘Stand Your Ground’ law in Minnesota and was a co-author of legislation that would direct prosecutors to crack down on violent criminals. I have an A+ rating from the NRA and the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus. I also strongly pushed back against the extreme, anti-gun measures that were proposed during the last legislative session. I will always defend our constitutional rights!
A robust, maintained network of roads and bridges across the state is key for our economic success. As the vice chair of the Senate Transportation Finance and Policy Committee, I’m honored to play a key role in developing transportation policy around Minnesota’s roads, bridges, airports, railways, and other critical infrastructure.
Over the last four years, we made roads and bridges a priority, and now we are seeing results, including funding for I-35 in Faribault and U.S. Highway 14 near Owatonna. These were made possible by our comprehensive transportation package, which reallocated existing revenue to add $300 million in permanent, ongoing funding for roads and bridges without raising gas taxes or license tab fees. In 2019, I worked successfully to protect the billions in dedicated funding for transportation infrastructure—again without raising gas taxes or tab fees.
I was among the first to call for the disastrous vehicle and licensing registration system (MNLARS) to be scrapped—and eventually, the governor agreed. But it was deputy registrars that were perhaps most harmed by the MNLARS fiasco; many of them nearly lost everything. I pushed the deputy registrar reimbursement bill across the finish line so these small businesses across the state would not be destroyed by government’s failure.
Finally, last year’s transportation budget also included my ‘slowpoke’ bill requiring slow drivers to move out of the left-hand lane so other drivers can pass, with exceptions when weather or traffic conditions make doing so more dangerous.
I am one of the leading voices demanding transparency and accountability from our executive branch and state agencies. When massive amounts of waste, fraud, and abuse were exposed at the Department of Human Services, I demanded an independent investigation and stricter oversight measures and reporting requirements, so we can start to restore integrity to that agency and its programs. I also supported the creation of a Blue Ribbon Panel tasked specifically with eliminating waste and finding savings within that agency. I am committed to addressing these problems and rooting out the fraud that exists within the bureaucracy.
Minnesotans pay too much in taxes and fees. I support comprehensive tax reform that allows Minnesotans to keep more of their money and gives small businesses additional capital to invest. I was proud to be a co-author of the first middle-income tax cut in nearly two decades, which passed a couple of years ago. In fact, over the past four years, we successfully lowered the income tax on Social Security benefits, passed tax breaks for college students, small business owners, families, veterans, and others, and reduced the statewide property tax burden. We also passed the Ag2School tax credit, which is available to ag landowners to help offset the costs of school bond referendums, reducing the taxable impact by at least 40 percent.
And since Minnesota is one of the only state legislatures in the nation with split partisan control, I also stood firm against the many proposed tax and fee increases. Ultimately, I fully support continued tax cuts, including a complete elimination of the income tax on Social Security benefits and further cuts to individual and small business taxes.
Family values are important to our way of life in Greater Minnesota—and I’m proud to defend those values at the State Capitol. I believe in protecting and honoring life from conception until natural death. I am so proud to stand for life in all respects, opposing both abortion and physician-assisted suicide. Life is precious; that’s how we should treat it. I am proud to boast a 100% pro-life rating from Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL).
Our southern Minnesota economy heavily relies on agriculture and I’m proud to work every day to support this critical industry. I was a co-sponsor of legislation to replenish the Rural Finance Authority, which provides low-interest loans to farmers and ag producers for various operational expenses, disaster recovery, and much more. I also supported legislation to increase access to mental health services for farmers and their families—an initiative that has never been more important at a time of turmoil in the ag industry.
As a veteran myself, I know how important it is for those who are serving us – and their families – to have access to the resources they need and the help they deserve. My vision for a Greater Minnesota includes making sure veterans’ benefits are readily available as I know firsthand how the G.I. bill can help returning service personnel further their education—resulting in better opportunities for all. I am thankful that we have a citizen military willing to protect our borders on the homefront and face difficult battles abroad.
When troops come back home to Minnesota, there needs to be access to adequate employment, affordable housing, and good medical benefits waiting for them as a small token of our appreciation for protecting our nation. Finally, I am proud to have been a co-author on the bill to exempt veterans’ pensions from income taxes in Minnesota, which is just the right thing to do for those who faithfully served our country in the military.
As businesses shut down, schools were closed, and gatherings were prohibited, COVID-19 has caused a massive disturbance for so many Minnesotans. When it became clear the virus was coming to Minnesota, I immediately got to work on legislation that appropriated funding for the health department to respond. As the business closures wore on, I also was a co-author of a bill that made it legal for bars and restaurants to sell a bottle of wine or a six-pack of beer with their takeout orders, giving them the opportunity to clear some of their unused inventory.
I also passed a bill that made sure all frontline workers, including those at MCF-Faribault, are eligible for workers compensation if they were to contract COVID-19 on the job. Finally, I wrote the bill that would restore a fair balance of governing power between the governor and the legislature by requiring the governor to obtain legislative approval to extend any peacetime emergency declaration beyond 30 days.