Many have asked what my first session was like. Honestly, it was like the card game of hearts. The card game starts, the cards are played and suddenly you realize they must have the king, and the queen. Then, you realize they are shooting the moon. Everyone looks to the other players as if messaging, “can anyone stop them?” Well, I love analogies, and yes the majority party shot the moon this session with every bill on the dream list.
At the end of session, the house and senate passed bills. Each had different provisions, and then conference committees started. Most of the conference committees did not include a Republican representative, and I think this is unfortunate for collaborative discussion. Regardless of who has the majority, my personal opinion is conference committees should have representation from both Republicans and Democrats. There were bills I supported individually, and then the conference committee changed the bill or added others which I could not support. After reading through the 400 + pages, I reviewed the costs, benefits, and short/ long term implications. It is easy to vote yes, and harder to fix the unintended consequences.
There were many omnibus bills to vote on such as: Transportation, Infrastructure, Taxes, Education, etc. Every title sounds wonderful. One would wonder what is there to NOT support. Here is an example of one omnibus bill I voted no for.
HF 2684 Education. The districts will face more mandates without the money for the mandates. The Republican model offered more money for reading and returning to phonics, and more money for teacher pay.
The Democrats voted down this model, and added costs for summer unemployment eligibility for school bus drivers, paraprofessionals, cooks, janitors etc. I recognize the value of all, as my own mom was a bus driver for 25 years. However, if you create more mandates without funding the schools, the formula increases are simply going to new costs. In a year of a historic surplus, funding education without unfunded mandates is common sense. Instead, every idea on the wish list was given a yes, and ultimately the cornerstones of education, and public safety were not given the priority they deserved.
With a $17.5 billion surplus, there was no excuse for nursing homes to NOT be funded. On the last day of session, after months of debate, and no votes for nursing home funding, the house unanimously passed 300 million for a two-year funding strategy. This was one of my main initiatives when campaigning, and I spent hours with many family members, and providers to find solutions. Now, many programs will be stabilized. I resigned from 24-hour operations in 2020 but will always champion models that assure care for our most vulnerable and for those who built this great state.
I am grateful to work for all of you. Please contact me at Rep.Natalie.Zeleznikar@house.mn, and follow me on my Facebook Page@ https://www.house.mn.gov/members/profile/15624. Feel free to write me at 100 Rev. Drive Martin Luther Kind Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, Mn 55155 or call at 800-890-5428. I appreciate your feedback and suggestions.
Let your light shine,