Driving County Roads

An on line journal sharing my views. The content reflects my background as a rural person employed in agriculture and as a retired elected official of local government.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Breakfast with Margaret

Recently, we had the opportunity to have breakfast at GAC and hear a presentation by Minnesota Representative Margaret Anderson-Kelliher, Speaker of the Minnesota House of Representatives. Anderson-Kelliher is a native of this area, having grown up in the Judson area and attended schools in Mankato. Her college education came at GAC. She mentioned that she still feels a strong tie to Blue Earth-Nicollet-and LeSueur counties. The family has a cabin on one of the lakes in Le Sueur County. She keeps in touch with the economic well being of the area because she is a tax payer here and also she has a brother who lives in Nicollet and builds houses.

Anderson-Kelliher attributed her upbringing and her early connection with the Bethany Lutheran Church at Judson for establishing her values. She also lauded the 4-H program and what it teaches. “People used to ask me, how did you learn to speak like you do?” She answered that it was in 4-H where young people are encouraged to give presentations and demonstrations.

She explained her philosophy of the representative democracy that we live in. No man is an island and each person comes to represent the people, but at the end of the day, we must come together to make decisions. Is our economic security being threatened? Some folks feel it is. These security threats then go to health security which is being threatened. Anderson-Kelliher said we need to encourage rural entrepreneurship, invest in our infrastructure and transportation system. She used the example of the Judson bridge being in a small scale what the state is facing on a larger scale in many ways.

She emphasized that government is always about making decisions with limited resources. She talked about climate change and energy conservation. She had visited Sweden this past summer and saw how they have transit, even in the rural areas. Public buses make stops at church parking lots to pick people up to go to work. This is a way to keep the population evenly distributed and keep people living in small towns. The number one source of green house gases is the tail pipes of our cars.
She mentioned that the housing slump can have a big effect on our state’s economy. 25% of the state’s sales tax revenue is related to housing. In regard to the last session, she said, “we came together and we ended on time within the budget.” Anderson-Kelliher said that the hardest part of ending on time was fighting the expectation that has built up over the last eight years that there would be a special session. Legislators were so used to having over time sessions that they were not motivated enough to come to terms a real deadline and they failed to work together as they should have. end

Monday, November 05, 2007

Thumbs Down

Evidently a new ruling came about recently that affects the Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) directors. The SWCD's are kind of a hybrid governmental unit. One half of their funding comes from the State of Minnesota through a legislative appropriation funneled through the Board of Water and Soil Resources. The other half comes from a local property tax levy in each county. The districts are set up using county boundaries. The SWCD's are governed by an elected board of five members who must reside in the county.

The new ruling is that these SWCD board members must fill out financial disclosure statements every year. They must list assets like: farmland, stocks, homes, businesses etc. Some county SWCD boards are very upset about this ruling and some have resigned in protest. Most of the current SWCD elected officials indicate that the process just takes time and the ultimate result is it may discourage people from running for these boards. "It is hard enough to find people to run for this office - especially younger folks," stated one SWCD director. And we all know that we are not in this for the money! The directors are paid only a per diem and expenses.

Could it be that there was some personal agenda behind this new ruling? end