Carlie Kotyza-Witthuhn

Carlie Kotyza-Witthuhn

Did you achieve the goals you had at the start of the session?

As a first-term legislator, one of my top priorities was getting to know more of my neighbors and building relationships with new colleagues. When our focus is on the best interests as the state as a whole, we can get things done, even with a divided legislature. Our compromise budget boosts funding for education, including special education and early learning. We protected health care access, lowered taxes for middle-class families and small businesses and enacted new protections against sexual assault. There’s certainly more to do, but our work this session keeps Minnesota moving in the right direction.

How was it serving in a divided legislature?

All along it was clear bipartisan compromise would be necessary for each and every measure we considered. Unfortunately, this meant some good ideas, and some of my top priorities which would have benefited Minnesotans, were left behind. Gun violence prevention, paid family leave, clean energy policies and others met Senate Republican opposition. But I’m committed to continued work on these issues in the future. I participated monthly in the Civility Caucus, a bipartisan and bicameral grouping of legislators focused on cooperation and collaboration, and I look forward to continuing to reach across the aisle.

What progress did you as a legislator make in work on access to childcare? On gun control?

I was the chief author of HF 1, the “Great Start for All Minnesota Children” Act, which had strategies to improve opportunities for our youngest learners. Part of this package included increased investments for quality child care and program integrity, and I was pleased to see this become law. Our final jobs bill also included a combined $1.5 million in funding for the Initiative Foundations for child care and community grants.

One of the reasons I ran for office is because I’m a mom demanding action. I’ve never wavered in my belief that all Minnesotans deserve to be safe from gun violence in school, at work, in places of worship, entertainment venues, or anywhere else in our community. This session, the House advanced two bills to address this: criminal background checks and “red flag” laws that have been successfully enacted in other states with bipartisan leadership. Unfortunately, Senate Republicans failed to consider these. Without a doubt, we have more work to do on both of these issues.

How do you feel about how the gas tax ended in the legislature?

After discussing this issue with many constituents, I think the lack of willingness to reach a compromise on a constitutionally-dedicated gas tax is a missed opportunity for Minnesota. Our roads and bridges are crumbling, and improving this critical, communal infrastructure isn’t free. Minnesota needs a balanced approach to fund investments in our roads and bridges, and to build a transit system suitable for the future of our state.

Is Minnesota's government doing enough to mitigate climate change?

Minnesota has taken some meaningful steps to address the looming impact of global climate change, but we could be doing so much more. In fact, Minnesota met the goal of 25% renewable energy by 2025 a full seven years early. One of the most motivated advocacy groups at the Capitol this session was young Minnesotans seeking action on this issue. New studies show time is running out, and I’m hopeful we can find a bipartisan consensus to curb these impacts soon.

Would you change Minnesota’s health care system? Why or why not? Do you support Medicare for all?

Health care costs are too high in Minnesota. One example is the soaring cost of prescription drugs, and we have the ability to act on it. It’s unconscionable that people are forced to cut pills in half or ration insulin. The House advanced measures this year to provide price transparency, end price gouging and allow diabetics to access an emergency supply of insulin if they can’t get their prescription refilled. I’m committed to standing with the Minnesotans who depend on lifesaving medications, and I will consider all options on the table to ensure access to high quality and affordable health care for everyone.

Why do you believe the Minnesota legislature ends up in special session so frequently?

It’s disappointing that our legislative process is too often treated as a game with winners and losers. This can mean delay tactics, refusal to consider important proposals to improve the lives of Minnesotans, and agreed-upon deadlines are treated as mere suggestions. Seeing this unfold in my first session was fascinating and frustrating. I will continue to advocate for additional transparency and I’m grateful for public hearings held in May. I’m glad bipartisan agreement on a budget framework was reached on time, and thanks to the wonderful non-partisan staff, we completed our work with a one-day special session.

Eden Teller is the multimedia reporter for Eden Prairie News. She's passionate about fostering productive conversations and empowering communities. When she's not reporting, she can be found reading a book, on a hike or tackling home improvement projects.

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