Notes From The Capitol: April 2018

Giving Minnesotans A Voice in Washington 
Since becoming Senator I’ve traveled across the state to listen to families, seniors, and communities and discuss issues they care about. I recently introduced two bills—one focused on mental health, and one on expanding broadband access—to address some of the needs I’ve heard about on the road.

I introduced a bipartisan measure with Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska to expand access to mental health services in schools and local communities. My measure was recently included in a bipartisan package of legislation to sharpen the federal response to the opioid crisis, and took an important step towards becoming law after passing out of the Senate Health Committee.

I also introduced a bill that builds out broadband to rural communities and modernizes internet speeds—just one of many things we need to be doing to help rural communities connect to the modern economy. Broadband is the infrastructure of the 21st Century. It isn’t just nice to have, it’s necessary. And if we’re going to build an economy that works for everyone, we need to seriously prioritize high-speed internet.

I’m going to fight for these bills to become law because they’re commonsense measures that will help improve the lives of Minnesotans. Learn about my mental health bill here and learn more about my broadband bill here.

Holding the Administration Accountable
I’m committed to finding common ground wherever I can. But when something’s not right for Minnesota—and the country—I’m not afraid to speak out. That’s why I’ve recently raised some serious concerns about the President’s cabinet.

For one, I believe that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt needs to resign. Between lavish travel using taxpayer dollars, exploiting loopholes to give huge raises to his friends, expensive round-the-clock security with questionable justification, arranging a sweetheart housing deal with a lobbyist, and purchasing an illegal $43,000 phone booth for his office, Pruitt’s time as EPA Administrator has been the very definition of corruption. I helped introduce a resolution with 38 of my Senate colleagues calling for Pruitt’s immediate resignation—the most senators ever to sign on to a resolution formally calling for a cabinet official’s resignation. And 130 House members joined us.

And last week, I voted against Mike Pompeo’s nomination to be Secretary of State. The Secretary of State should be a person who can use diplomacy to build consensus. They need to be able to represent American values to the world. It’s abundantly clear that Mike Pompeo is not that person. Look at his record. The things he’s said. His actions. Anti-Muslim, anti-LGBTQ, pro-torture.

Minnesotans deserve the very best leading our country. You can count on me to fight for that ideal.

Learn more here and here

8th Annual Minnesota Congressional Delegation Hotdish Competition
This month I hosted the 8th Annual Minnesota Congressional Delegation Hotdish Competition. I took up the helm of Al Franken’s tradition because it’s a chance to put politics to the side and bring Minnesotans together over some great food. For non-locals wondering what hotdish is—it’s similar to what other folks call casserole, but indisputably better.

We had some innovative and tasty hotdishes this year. My hotdish—the 10,000 Island Cheeseburger Surprise Hotdish—was inspired by a meal that my mom served me as a kid. A big congratulations is due to Representative Tom Emmer, who won this year with his “Hotdish of Champions.”

Four Minnesotans judged the competition: Olympic gold-medal winning Coach Phill Drobnick of our own Minnesota curling hometown heroes “Team Shuster,” Farm Director Joe Gill of KASM radio, Noobtsaa Philip Vang—U of M grad and founder of online restaurant Foodhini, which serves up food made by immigrant and refugee chefs—and Volunteer State President of AARP Minnesota Kate Schaefers.

Are you a hotdish aficionado? Take a look at this year’s recipes and photo album for some inspiration.

Fighting for Consumer Rights  
As Senator, it’s my job to look out for Minnesota consumers and stand up for them when they’ve been wronged. That’s why when Sun Country Airlines effectively abandoned thousands of travelers who were trying to fly home—forcing them to rebook themselves and spend hundreds, or even thousands, to get home—I took a stand.

I pressed the US Department of Transportation to see what can be done to prevent this from happening again. I also asked the CEO of Sun Country to explain his company’s decisions to the families who were stranded in a foreign country and left to fend for themselves to get home because they deserve an explanation.

Going forward, I’m exploring legislative fixes to prevent another Sun Country Airlines debacle from happening. It should be simple: when somebody buys a round-trip plane ticket, they should trust that the airline is going to get them back home.

Learn more here