Sparks: Thank you for participating in our democracy

Published 9:48 am Saturday, May 19, 2018

By Dan Sparks

State Senator, District 27

Hundreds of bills got introduced, received public hearings, and were narrowed down for robust debate on the floor of each legislative body. Ordinary citizens and leaders from professional associations, municipal governments, advocacy organizations and others provided thoughtful public testimony and contributed to a respectful conversation about how we will collectively address the challenges facing our state.

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The Legislature debated and voted on a variety of major proposals during the past week, including changes to our state tax code, a supplemental budget, and a capital investment bill. As a co-equal branch of our state government, the governor has the authority to veto or sign into law the bills that reach his desk. A variety of proposals remain unresolved at this time, so I will provide an overview of what did and did not get accomplished soon.

During these past few months, many of you took time away from your families and personal and professional commitments to visit the Capitol and participate in our democracy. Many more mailed letters, made phone calls, and wrote emails. To each and every person who contacted and visited me this year, I can’t thank you enough for being an active citizen and contributing to a respectful public discourse.

I especially want to recognize my fellow Minnesotans from Austin and the surrounding area who visited me at the Capitol, including:

Mayor Tom Stiehm, City Administrator Craig Clark, Austin Public Library, Mower County Commissioners, Mower County Coordinator Craig Oscarson, Austin Chamber of Commerce, AARP, Minnesota Farm Bureau, Minnesota Corn Growers, Minnesota Milk Producers Association, Land Stewardship Project, Freeborn-Mower Cooperative Service, teachers, firefighters, AFSCME, ABATE, Izaak Walton League, Minnesota Building Trades Association, Austin Utilities, IBEW, Mower County Soil and Water Conservation District Board members, and Riverland Community College President Dr. Adenuga Atewologun, staff and students.

If you have questions or comments about what happened during the 2018 legislative session, I would love to hear from you. Give me a call at (651) 296-9248; mail me a letter at 95 University Avenue W., Minnesota Senate Bldg., Room 2201, St. Paul, MN 55155; or send me an email at