Local legislators eager to dig in
Editor's note: A story in last Friday's Echo Press contained comments from local representatives Jay McNamar and Mary Franson as they began a new session. Here's more from Torrey Westrom and Paul Anderson.
State legislators who represent Douglas County plan to be watchdogs for taxes and agriculture in the new session that began last Tuesday.
"It's a humbling experience to walk into that chamber, raise my right hand, and to realize that I am here because my fellow citizens sent me here to represent them," said District 12 Senator Torrey Westrom, R- Elbow Lake. "The responsibility to serve the needs of my constituents is one I will not take lightly."
Westrom is serving his first term in the Minnesota State Senate. He previously served eight terms in the Minnesota House.
Westrom said his time will be spent at floor sessions, committee meetings, and meeting with constituents.
"It's going to be a busy session, and I'm confident it will be a fruitful one as well. I'll be working hard to create positive change in our state," Westrom said.
This year, Westrom will be serving on the Senate's transportation and public safety committee, the finance committee and finance committee divisions of transportation and public safety; and environment, economic development and agriculture.
"Serving on these committees is a great opportunity for our district, because I will be able to directly impact and help influence transportation and agriculture policy," Westrom said.
"It's sure to be a productive year, and lawmakers will certainly have many important decisions to make," added Westrom.
State Representative Paul Anderson, R-Starbuck, was officially sworn in as the state representative for House District 12B.
District 12B consists of the east side of Pope County, LaGrand, Lake Mary, Hudson and Orange townships in Douglas County and the northwest section of Stearns County.
The dynamics surrounding this session are different from recent years, Anderson said, because the DFL has control of both houses of the Legislature, in addition to the governor's office.
"That said, they will control the agenda for the upcoming session," he said. "My hope is that they will concentrate on the budget and improving Minnesota's economy and not on social issues such as gay marriage. Our economy is improving and there are already tax increases coming from the federal government. Revenue coming in to the state during the next two years is forecast to increase without raising taxes so my first action would be to try and balance the budget without raising them.
"Another concern I have." Anderson said, "is that rural and agricultural issues are given the attention they deserve here at the Capitol. The ag finance budget is now part of the committee that also works on the environment and natural resources. In years past, ag finance and agriculture policy were combined into their own separate committee."
Anderson's committee assignments include housing finance and policy, agriculture policy, environment, natural resources and agriculture finance.
HOW TO CONTACT LOCAL LAWMAKERS
Here is contact information for the five local legislators
that represent parts of Douglas County:
Mary Franson (R), House District 8B,
211 State Office Building, St. Paul, MN 55155; (651) 296-3201. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jay McNamar (DFL), House District 12A,
431 State Office Building, St. Paul, MN 55155; (651) 296-4929. E-mail: email@example.com
Paul Anderson (R), House District 12B,
225 State Office Building, St. Paul, MN 55155; (651) 296-4317. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bill Ingebrigtsen (R), Senate District 8,
143 State Office Building, St. Paul, MN 55155-1206;
(651) 297-8063. E-mail: email@example.com
Torrey Westrom (R), Senate District 12,
107 State Office Building, St. Paul, MN 55155-1206;
(651) 296-3826. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org