By Peg Ludtke
Did you know that roughly around 6,000 bills are written each two-year cycle in the MN Legislature? If that seems overwhelming, don’t panic. Jaime McGeathy – pronounced “McGathy”), author of the newsletter WatchYourRepsMN , convincingly argues that anyone can stay on top of what is happening at the Capitol in terms of what bills are getting hearings and which Legislatures are in charge of the bills that matter most to you.
She spoke at the St. Croix Valley Alliance NOW membership meeting on November 18, 2018 and gave excellent tips on how to stay on top of critical legislation and when it is most timely to call your Reps with concerns. Since many of the candidates who worked hard to get elected are heading to the Capitol on January 8th, the next logical initiative seems to be to watch what they do there and make sure it is what we want!
First off, we don’t need to be intimidated by the number of bills created. Only about 10 percent of the bills written make it to a committee, and never make it to a hearing on the floor. Just 10 percent!!
Also, our Legislature works on a two-year cycle. Bills coming up in 2019 will be focused on the budget. 2020 legislative session will focus on policy. Once the Minnesota State Legislature website ( https://www.leg.state.mn.us ) is updated in December, our newly elected members will show up, as will information on what bills have been authored by our Reps and also what committees they serve on. This means for a constituent, time is of the essence to call and voice concerns about bills they like or dislike.
McGeathy also suggests checking the calendar feature on the Minnesota State Legislature website to see what is going on in the House. (The Senate does not post on the calendar.) To find out what is being proposed in a bill, search by topic, name, or number. Bills can be daunting in length but in some cases there are summaries and if a bill has stopped and has no date of moving forward, you can assume it is dead for this session. The website has a wealth of information for constituents who want to stay engaged in government. McGeathy showed us how easy it is to navigate. She suggests just playing around with the website and getting familiar with its features.
So what can we expect to be on top on the agenda come January 8th? McGeathy who is diligent about staying informed for the Watch your RepsMN Newsletter, suspects the number one priority will be tax conformity since state taxes are currently not in sync with the new federal tax changes. Many budget bills will be authored, including healthcare options that are part of the reinsurance route or something else. The Elder Abuse Bill will probably resurface as it had bipartisan support last session. Redistricting will also need to be addressed, since 2020 is a census year. McGeathy is also hopeful that gun legislation will gain momentum and Minnesota will step up and be the final state needed to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment so it becomes part of the Constitution of the United States.
We all know winters in MN are long and cold, so here is a simple plan to stay engaged and make a difference:
- Enjoy the Holidays.
- Eat. Rest up.
- Talk or don’t talk politics with your loved ones.
4. When January hits, get informed by subscribing to WatchYourRepsMN and the Minnesota State Legislature website and McGeathy’s handy Twitter Starter Kit below. (Yes these Twitter feed are where you will get all the news before it’s reported in the media!)
5. Once informed, step into action. Call. Write. Show-up. Persist. Go after what matters to you and your fellow Minnesotans.
Pictured is Jaime McGeathy’s card to help you stay informed via Watch Your RepsMN and her handy Twitter Starter Kit.