State Representative - District 12B Candidate: Paul Anderson, R (Incumbent)Running for State Representative - District 12B
Q: Please list your background and specific qualifications for this position.
A: I am a graduate of the University of Minnesota with a degree in teaching and coaching. After college, I returned home and joined our family farming operation and have been actively farming for nearly 40 years. Also during that time, I have served on the school board at Starbuck, I was a township officer for more than 20 years, and I was elected to the Pope County Board of Commissioners in 2006. Two years later, when the then- current representative retired, I was elected to the Minnesota House and have served there for the past four years. I am vice-chairman of the House Agriculture committee and also serve on the K-12 Education Finance Committee and the Environment, Natural Resources and Energy Committee.
Q: The public is tired of the partisan politics that often bog down the work of the Legislature. Specifically, how will you work with legislators from the other political party to get things done?
A: My service on the Agriculture Committee is an example of how legislators on both sides of the aisle work together to get things done. Last year, when the government shut down, the agriculture budget was the only one that was passed and signed into law by the governor before the shutdown. I was also part of the working group made up of both House and Senate members from both parties who put the basic framework of a Vikings stadium bill together.
Q: Many people saw significant increases in property taxes this year. If elected, what will you do to lower the property taxes for average/middle class home owners?
A: In reality, property taxes are affected most by decisions made at the local level by city councils, school boards and county commissioners. I will work to lower the statewide commercial/industrial property tax, or at the very least, to eliminate the automatic annual increases in that tax, which is actually a double hit on commercial property. I also support increased funding for the Property Tax Refund program, which targets relief to homeowners based on their incomes.
I support maintaining local government aid and freezing the amount received at current levels. Because of changes in population made known by the 2010 census, many of our towns and cities would have seen their LGA levels reduced, but we passed legislation to keep the amount the same. In fact, 2012 was the first year in the past five that local aid hadn’t been reduced.
Q: Is the state taking the right approach to battling aquatic invasive species, such as zebra mussels? What more can be done?
A: Yes, I think the state is taking the right approach by funding increased enforcement and educational programs. We are also funding nearly $2 million of research at the University of Minnesota, which offers the best hope of coming up with a biological or chemical method of controlling some of these pests, especially the zebra mussel. Because of the large number of lakes and public accesses in Minnesota, trying to police every one is a logistical nightmare. That’s why the public must become better educated and buy in to these programs.
Q: What priority will you give to energy efficiency and renewable energies? What energy future do you envision for upcoming generations in Minnesota?
A: Energy efficiency is one component of reducing our demand for electricity and fuel. But, it can only go so far, and the easy fruits have already been plucked. The cost for increased efficiencies sometimes out-weighs the benefit as utilities and electric co-ops must continue coming up with new ways to conserve energy.
We have come a long way with our use of renewable forms of energy, and they now provide a significant portion of our energy needs. Going forward, however, many of these alternatives must be able to stand on their own, with fewer public subsidies or tax credits. As the federal government finally faces its own financial crisis, states must make plans to proceed with fewer federal dollars, and this is one area where that very well may happen.
The bottom line is that we need to continue having a dependable and relatively low cost supply of base load electricity. The technologies for burning coal are improving, and natural gas has become a low cost alternative source of fuel, and its use should be expanded. Nuclear must also be a part of Minnesota’s energy future.