An Open Letter to our state representatives and senators:
You represent the most progressive districts in the State of Minnesota. As your constituents we have a right to expect that you would exercise leadership in advancing progressive legislation in the following areas:
• A state minimum wage increase to $15 an hour effective immediately and further increases based on the cost of living.
• Legislation calling for a single payer health plan, similar to Vermont, which would be an extension of Medicare for everybody.
• Legalization of marijuana and immediate release from prison for anyone convicted of possession of a small amount of marijuana.
• Immediately begin phasing out nuclear power plants at Monticello and Prairie Island, and increased state subsidies for renewable energy.
• Felony prosecution and cancellation of contracts with any sports organization that allows racist names to be used as slogans or mascots for professional sports teams using publicly supported stadiums.
By press deadline, only Senator Jeff Hayden had responded:
I joined my DFL colleagues in both the Senate and the House in passing legislation to raise the wage, but unfortunately the bill stalled over disagreements on how high to raise the wage. I’m confident we will raise the wage during the 2014 session, but I continue to stress that the minimum wage must be considered a floor, not a ceiling. Raising the wage to any amount can’t be viewed as a silver bullet for Minnesota workers living in poverty; instead, it should be part of a larger package of protections for workers and their families—strong prevailing wage laws, better workforce training and development, and a reliable safety net for job loss.
I’m a longtime supporter of single payer, and continue to fight to ensure that every person living in Minnesota can get the health care they need. I’m proud of our efforts in 2013 to build our own, state-based insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act, which resulted in the lowest average rates for health plans in the county. While I’ve been very frustrated with MNsure’s rollout and the problems Minnesotans have encountered trying to use the online marketplace, I remain optimistic that—once properly implemented—MNsure will get more people access to quality health care for themselves and their families.
I expect the decriminalization of marijuana, in general, and the legalization of medicinal marijuana, in particular, to be one of the major policy debates during the 2014 session. As part of a bi-partisan coalition supporting a bill to legalize medicinal marijuana, I’m hopeful that the legislature and the governor will make real progress this year.
There is really no debating the need for long-term renewable energy alternatives in Minnesota, and I’m especially interested in exploring solutions that both position Minnesota as a renewable energy leader and protect rate payers in our community from bearing too much of the cost. Not only have I supported subsidies for renewable energy sources, bringing the cost closer to parity, but I have forced innovation by supporting an extension on the moratorium on building any new nuclear facilities in Minnesota.
Finally, I am united with our American Indian community and so many other Minnesotans in demanding that the Washington, D.C., football team—and any other sports team with a racist or derogatory name—take immediate action to change its name and mascot. Until they do, they are not welcome in our city.
Senator, District 62