Major Accomplishments: Making Our Lives Better
- Chief Author of legislation that passed unanimously to create the Office of Collaboration and Dispute Resolution ― which now is assisting the solution of major public policy issues, both at the state level and in local jurisdictions.
- Chief Author of legislation that passed nearly unanimously to remove embalming as a requirement after death, negotiating it through the House with the assistance of funeral directors. This legislation affects all of us, in funeral costs, in opportunities for family-directed after-death care, in green burials, and ultimately in our attitudes regarding death. I have presented talks 39 times on green burials and after-death care to various interest groups, constituencies and conferences.
- Chief Author of legislation to get Springbrook Nature Center the funds it needed for renewal and be protected before it was “loved to death.” My work together with the Springbrook team over several election cycles got this funding into the bonding bill several times, only to be vetoed twice by Gov. Pawlenty. By 2014, all the work had been done for it to be simply added into the bonding bill and finally passed. What a delight that was!
- Chief Author of legislation passed to reform the three Ethnic Councils. This was a major bi-partisan work, initiated by me and shepherded past many obstacles. The legislation reforms these small but very important state agencies to work effectively for the Asian-Pacific, Latino, and African American communities.
- Sponsored bi-partisan legislation to reform our Family Law statutes relating to parenting time after divorce. This took two years of intense and demanding collaborative work. It is the most significant change in family law in two decades and will affect the lives of thousands of children and their parents. (Click here to read my article.)
On-Going Legislation and Works in Progress
- Chief Author of the MN Health Plan, a work-in-progress in the House for several years. This single-payer approach to how we will manage and fund health care for all has been an on-going work with Senator John Marty. It is verifiably the best way to stabilize health care costs, to reduce burdens on businesses, and to ensure health care access for everyone. We deserve no less!
- Toured the state with Sen. John Marty, presenting on the MN Health Plan to educate voters, health care providers, and business leaders, and to develop support for the legislation in out-state Minnesota.
- Fought repeatedly to replace the cap on the “reserves” of our corporate HMO’s, thereby to reign in unnecessary costs. We created HMO's in Minnesota to serve us, but they have not worked as we hoped to lower health care costs. Some of the unnecessary costs that inflate the price we pay for health insurance are guaranteed profits (called “reserves”), high administrative expenses, issues marketing, and political lobbying.
- Continue to work on Family Law issues, including re-writing the Supreme Court guidelines for child-focused parenting time decision-making.
Other Legislative Accomplishments
- Found a basis for the marriage of a same-sex couple when one partner was dying and unable to return to Minnesota to be married. It was the first ever non-military marriage in the nation via Skype!
- Chief Author of legislation passed for Family Home Visiting to support developmental support of 0-3 yr. olds.
- Served as Vice-chair of the Early Childhood Committee.
- Served as "Educator-in-Chief" in the legislature in explaining the important brain development that occurs in the early years of life.
- Chief Author of legislation passed to get a Northstar Commuter Rail station in Fridley.
- Chief Author of legislation passed to allow electronic rosters at voting sites for accuracy and ease.
- Chief Author of legislation passed to join ERIC, a national site to clarify voting rolls and encourage voter registration.
- Chaired the Elections Conference Committee and was a tough negotiator to keep a strong Campaign Finance Board in place, with transparent economic disclosure for legislators.
- Chief Author of legislation passed to reimburse the Minnesota Department of Health for costs associated with their careful and successful work in keeping us safe from Ebola.
- Chief Author of legislation passed to better serve pregnant women in prison, which can be very important for their future babies and their own skill as mothers.
- Chief Author of pending legislation to allow city fire departments to donate obsolete equipment to other agencies, including other fire prevention services, such as protective gear and hoses.
- Participated in a private audience with the Dalai Lama and with the Prime-Minister-in-Exile for Tibet. These leaders model a clear-hearted approach to resolving difficult governmental matters.
- Received "Legislator of the Year" award for mental health legislation from NAMI -- the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the nation's largest grassroots advocacy organization for people with mental illness and their families.
- Initiated and coordinated the renewal of the SACA food shelf when it was struggling to stay open.
- Helped resolve the issue of a school board member needing to resign after making a disparaging comment regarding Muslims. Helped transform that situation into an educational experience via the “Muslim Voices” event.
- Honored to give the keynote speech to annual dinner of the Mediation Services of Anoka County.
- Initiated a community conversation over the demolition of the community-built playground Castle Heights, with the hope of creating a new community project there.
- Supported the work in New Brighton to permit regulated urban farming.
- Worked with the Fridley Cancer Cluster group and state agencies around the Fridley industrial contamination concerns for safe drinking water.
- Helped New Brighton work with the state to release information on water safety measures undertaken.
- Honored to be the guest speaker at the awards event of the Conflict Resolution Center.
Earlier Public Service
- Served on Columbia Heights School Board for 10 years.
- President of the Parent Communication Network in Columbia Heights for six years.
- Chaired the School Levy Referendum Committee for Columbia Heights school district in early 1990’s.
- Served on the school and community working group for the federal Drug-free Schools and Community Act.
- Coordinated and facilitated the Developing Capable People Course, for teachers and parents, in Columbia Heights, Fridley and Spring Lake Park.