Sen. Sparks previews 2019 legislative session
By Dan Sparks
State Senator, District 27
Happy New Year, southern Minnesota! I hope you and your loved ones enjoyed some quality time together over the holidays and had an opportunity to give thanks for the blessings in our lives.
The 2019 legislative session began Tuesday, January 8. It is my pleasure to resume writing this bi-weekly newspaper column to keep you informed about business at our State Capitol. Check back every other Saturday for updates about the state budget, health care costs and access, changes to the state tax code, and much more. You can also subscribe to my semi-weekly email newsletter by visiting www.senate.mn/senatorsparks or find me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SenatorDanSparks.
With a new Governor and major changes in the House of Representatives, state lawmakers have a fresh opportunity to work across party lines to do right by the people of Minnesota. Chief among our responsibilities this year is creating a new two-year state budget that adequately funds our public schools, public health care programs, assistance to family farmers, and aid to local governments, to name a few expenditures.
According to the latest economic forecast released December 2018, Minnesota has a positive budget balance and a healthy amount saved in our reserves. However, state budget experts warn that market volatility and an aging workforce could result in an economic slowdown beginning in as little as several years. Taking a cautious approach to our budgeting process and exercising fiscal responsibility in the coming year is a priority for me. The full economic forecast is available to the public online at www.mn.gov/mmb. A revised forecast is scheduled to be released later in February.
During the next five months, people of all backgrounds from all corners of our state will flood the Capitol to advocate for the ideas and values they care about most. There are a lot of ways to get involved in the legislative process, whether you visit the Capitol to participate in a “Day on the Hill,” write a letter to your elected officials, or provide testimony for a public hearing. For a helpful guide that explains how a bill becomes a law, visit www.leg.state.mn.us/leg/howbill. I invite you to get involved in the legislative process and play a role in shaping your state government.
To contact me with your ideas and feedback, you can reach me by phone at 651-296-9248 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also mail letters or pay me a visit in the Minnesota Senate Building, Room 2201, right across the street from the Capitol.
For the next two years, Minnesota will have the only Legislature in the entire country with control split between Republicans and Democrats. This is a wonderful opportunity to show the nation that divided government can work when we put the public good above our political disagreements. I invite you to join me in making this a successful session.