Why are you running for this position?
It has been an honor to serve in the Senate for the past eight years. While I have achieved some of my goals from when I first ran for office, the job is not done. Minnesota is projected to have at least a $2.5 billion deficit in our next budget and we need experienced leaders who can make the tough decisions needed and fight against the DFL urge to raise taxes.
Draining money from your wallet and businesses that are already suffering must not happen. Government must do more with less of your tax dollars, now more than ever.
What are the top three issues you would face during your term?
Jobs/economy: The COVID-19 pandemic has created economic damage that could take years to recover from. I fully supported the governor’s original emergency order, to ensure that hospitals were prepared. But the demand by the governor to continue his unilateral powers must end, so we can return to our form of government where the executive and legislative branches are co-equal. Public safety and reopening schools are also vital to Minnesota’s future and success. Defunding police only encourages more lawless behavior and I will fight against the defunding movement.
What is the role of the Legislature when it comes to needs like housing or healthcare?
As a member of the Senate Capitol Investment Committee, we have heard a number of proposals for increased spending on housing, some of which has been in the bonding bill that the Senate has proposed. I am hopeful that we can balance these needs with the infrastructure needs for roads, bridges, and other projects under consideration. On healthcare, I have supported the reinsurance legislation that has stabilized and reduced costs, as well as voted to support allowing for-profit insurance carriers to participate in the marketplace, creating competition for your healthcare dollars and more options for you to choose.
What is the role of the Legislature in creating a healthy business climate in the state?
Government should be involved in setting up the marketplace to be equal for all, but allow businesses to grow based on the strength of their products and customer satisfaction. Part of this is basic functions of police/fire protection, streets, water, and sewer services that we all expect. These, and other services, creates the ‘oil’ that helps the ‘engine’ of the economy run and grow. But the Legislature needs to be careful to fund what is needed and necessary.
What transportation issues would you like to address during your term?
In my most recent term, I have been successful in getting funding for safety improvements for Hwy 12, which will begin next summer. For Chanhassen, I have been co-author on the Highway 212 requests and will continue to support the completion to Norwood Young America. I would also like to make the Small Cities funding for streets we have provided in previous budgets a permanent funding item. Cities over 5,000 in population get assistance, but nothing for smaller cities. I have been recognized by SouthWest Transit for my support of rapid bus service and will continue fighting for increasing that funding.
What circumstances would prompt you to vote across party lines?
I have done this already, on a number of issues. One I would highlight is a bill to change expungement laws a few years ago. When people make mistakes, Minnesota needs to give them a second chance. When people plead guilty to a non-violent felony, that plea can prohibit them from opportunities. You might have cleaned up your act and gotten an education to be a CPA, only to have the felony prohibit you from being licensed. I was one of only three GOP senators that helped change the laws to help people who learned from their mistake.
How should the Legislature respond to calls for public safety reform?
I will never support defunding of police departments. I do support the reforms that the Legislature passed earlier this year, which have the support of law enforcement professionals. Radical plans, like the ones proposed by Minneapolis, are designed to pander to radical groups that want to bully their political agenda through the Legislature. I have been endorsed by the Minnesota Police & Peace Officer’s Association because they know I stand with police officers in our community to improve policing, not promote the lawless and criminal behavior in Minneapolis.
How should the Legislature respond to the pandemic?
I think the Senate has taken a reasonable and thoughtful approach. We all agreed that an Emergency Order was necessary to deal with the initial phases of the COVID-19 crisis. But after a month or two, hospitals were ready and we had respirators for those who needed them. But now, the governor refuses to step back from his powers and work again as a co-equal branch of your government in Minnesota. Unfortunately, Democrats in St Paul (including Kelly Morrison) are putting party ahead of doing their job, which is being part of solutions as a co-equal branch of government.
Have you been charged in the past year, or ever been convicted, of a misdemeanor or higher, or been involved in a personal or business bankruptcy or foreclosure?