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HomeNewsNatalie Zeleznikar And Roger Skraba Hold Town Hall Meeting In Two Harbors

Natalie Zeleznikar And Roger Skraba Hold Town Hall Meeting In Two Harbors

State Representatives Natalie Zeleznikar and Roger Skraba held a Town Hall meeting last Sunday, at Two Harbors High School. About 40 to 50 people braved winter storms to listen to and ask questions of the two leg­islators. Subjects up for discussion included funding for the Highway 61 Project, tax re­lief, and Paid Family Medical Leave, among other topics.

Regarding the Highway 61 Project, Zeleznikar and Senator Grant Hauschild have been working to find solutions to the funding shortfall. It is clear that Zeleznikar, Haus­child and Skraba are all keenly aware of how important resolving the funding issues are to North Shore communities and to the tourist industry. There is significant bi-partisan ef­fort in Saint Paul to find the needed funding to complete the project in a timely manner. Both legislators at Sunday’s Town Hall indi­cated that they support bonding bills as a way to raise funds for infrastructure projects. Sk­raba said that local municipalities don’t have the capacity to fund projects as extensive as Highway 61. That being said, Zeleznikar ac­knowledged that completing the project will benefit the entire State. With the construction season rapidly approaching, hopefully their efforts will bear fruit.

Both Representatives voiced support for property tax relief and the elimination of tax­es on Social Security income. Both also op­pose the increase of fees for State Parks, fish­ing and hunting licenses, and other outdoor activities. “Why increase fees with a $17 bil­lion State surplus? That seems like a slap in the face and will hit people of lower income levels the hardest,” said Zeleznikar.

Paid Family Medical Leave (PFML) is cur­rently an important topic in Saint Paul. Both representatives expressed some concern about the current bill as it does not address all the issues about how paid leave will be funded. The U.S. is one of the only countries to not offer any kind of paid family or medi­cal leave. Since there are models for this kind of benefit out there in the world, and since the benefits of having access to PFML are good for business and for people, perhaps we can learn from other capitalist democracies how to design a system that will benefit both em­ployees and employers.

One Town Hall attendee voiced opposi­tion to the recent Bill passed in the House of Representatives establishing Minnesota as a Sanctuary State for people seeking gender af­firming health care. Under current Minneso­ta law, families of trans-gender children can access some medical interventions for their child like puberty blockers and cross-sex hormone treatments. More extensive surgi­cal treatments can only be sought for indi­viduals who are 18 years or older. This is a complicated and deeply personal issue and in the opinion of this writer, one wonders why lawmakers, rather than medical profession­als and families, should be in a position to determine the type of healthcare people have access to. All the States that surround Min­nesota have either banned gender-affirming care or are considering such bans.

Personally, I’m proud to live in a State where we are creating space for trans-gender citizens to live authentic lives without fear of violence, abuse and political attack.

Rick Evans
Rick Evans
My wife, Marsha Kinzer (a proud DEHS Greyhound, class of ‘77) introduced me to the North Shore on vacation in 2012. It became our regular escape when the stress of our careers in education became overwhelming, and it didn’t take me long to fall in love with the breathtaking scenery, the nice people, and “salad” containing Jell-o and marshmallows. So you can either blame or thank my loving wife for my being here, because when we needed to choose a retirement hometown, Marsha advocated hard for her beloved Duluth, and here we are, six months later. Yes, this will be my first northern Minnesota winter. Yes, I welcome thoughts and prayers. Government, public policy, and social justice weighed heavily in the curriculums I taught at the high school level over a thirty-eight year career. In addition, we were a laboratory school focused on critical thinking in conjunction with technical and scientific writing. So when I found myself adrift on the great ocean of retirement and spied a raft, I jumped at the chance to take up what I’d left behind…minus the bad teachers’ lounge coffee. My position at the NSJ allows me to combine my passions for government and writing, and it’s helping me to feel less out of touch in new surroundings. When I’m not being “Cubby” (Marsha’s favorite new nickname for this green reporter) I enjoy pointing at eagles and saying, “Look, honey. There’s an eagle.” I’ve had an active side hustle as a professional musician for almost as many years as Charlie Parr. As a guitarist/singer/songwriter, I graced the stages of clubs and festivals around southern Wisconsin, including an appearance on A Prairie Home Companion. Should I even mention A Prairie Home Companion, or am I the only one here old enough to remember what that is? Look! An eagle!
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