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Our HD48B Candidate is Joan Howe-Pullis

Rep. Yvonne Selcer, HD48B Candidate Joan Howe-Pullis, SD48 Candidate Laurie McKendry

Rep. Yvonne Selcer, HD48B Candidate Joan Howe-Pullis, SD48 Candidate Laurie McKendry

On the evening of May 8, 2014, the Senate District Central Committee met and our House District 48B members voted to endorse Joan Howe-Pullis as their candidate.

Joan and her husband, John, are Eden Prairie residents.  Joan is active in multiple ministries at Pax Christi Catholic Community. This month, she’s completing her Masters at St. Mary’s University.  And,she and John will be watching their son graduate from college.

In 2012, she volunteered for Minnesotans United for All Families and Outfront Minnesota to help defeat the constitutional amendment. She continued working with Outfront on the Safe Schools Bill that became law earlier this year (which wasn’t supported by Rep. Loon).

We’re excited to have a candidate with such a strong background and look forward to working with her on her journey to the Minnesota State House.

If you’re interested in working with Joan on her campaign, you can e-mail us at [email protected]. We’ll connect you.

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Joan Howe-Pullis Endorsed for 48B House Race

Rep. Yvonne Selcer, HD48B Candidate Joan Howe-Pullis, SD48 Candidate Laurie McKendry

Rep. Yvonne Selcer, HD48B Candidate Joan Howe-Pullis, SD48 Candidate Laurie McKendry

At our May 8 meeting, our members living in House District 48B met, spoke with an endorsed Joan Howe-Pullis as our candidate for this race.

Joan lives in Eden Prairie with her husband John. She’s active at Pax Christi Catholic Community.

This month she will be completing her Masters at St. Mary’s University. She and her husband, John, will also be traveling to Connecticut to see their son graduate.

We’re excited to have Joan as our candidate and look forward to working with her throughout this election cycle and beyond when she becomes our House District 48B Representative.

If you’re interested in working with us to help Joan on her path to the State Legislature, send us an e-mail at [email protected]

Rep. Yvonne Selcer’s Most Recent Legislative Update

Dear Neighbors,

Wonderful to welcome these young visitors in their "Capitol Crowns" to the House Chambers!

Wonderful to welcome these young visitors in their “Capitol Crowns” to the House Chambers!

As we enter the final weeks of the 2014 Session, legislators are spending time hearing bills on the floor, conference committees are meeting to iron out differences between House and Senate bills, and negotiations continue on the proposed dollar amount for our state’s bonding bill.  A number of bills have passed off of the House floor.  Here is an update on some of the work that is being done:

Protecting MN Students Studying Abroad

Many Minnesota students have wonderful study abroad experiences that enrich global perspectives and learning, but some students have been needlessly assaulted, injured, or even died while studying abroad.  There is currently no federal or state legislation that requires reporting of these incidents.

Sen. Terri Bonoff and I are working on legislation that will require reporting of safety records for these programs through both the Secretary of State and the Office of Higher Learning websites.  This will enable students and families to make informed decisions as they choose study abroad programs. That language is now in the conference committee report, and I will continue to work to get this first-in-the-nation legislation into law.

Protecting Our Privacy

HF 2120, which I have co-authored, establishes a Data Practices Commission.  In the wake of data breaches at Target and other major corporations, and the multiple ways personal data is instantly available in this Information Age, we need to be pro-active and responsible in our approach to protecting our citizens’ private data.  This bill passed with broad bi-partisan support to establish the Legislative Commission on Data Practices and Personal Data Privacy.  The Commission will study issues relating to government data practices and individuals’ personal data privacy rights to establish sound policies and statutes in this area.

Protecting Individuals in Domestic Abuse Situations

HF 3238  strengthens protections for victims of domestic violence by removing firearms from abusers subject to civil orders for protection, and those prohibited from possessing firearms due to a criminal conviction related to domestic abuse.  This bill also passed with wide bipartisan support (111-15).  Due process is involved, and this statute could only be invoked in cases where a restraining order has been obtained.

Accountability in Government

HF 1961 is a bill I co-authored that broadens financial interest disclosure for public officials to increases transparency to address conflict of interest issues for elected officials in Minnesota. This bill will strengthen the MN Campaign Finance Board’s authority to audit and investigate compliance with campaign finance and disclosure requirements. I’m pleased that this bill passed on a bi-partisan vote.  Our community members are entitled to know whether their legislators are acting in the best interests of Minnesotans or themselves.

Transportation Update:

Long Overdue: Many of us travel I-494 North and South through the Plymouth area, and have been frustrated with wasted hours due to the lack of an additional lane.  Recently, a bill that directs the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) to add an additional lane to I-494 in both directions in the Plymouth area passed the House.  I co-authored the bill (HF 2149), and we have worked with  MnDOT to identify funding for this project from existing sources. I will continue to press for funding and completion of this long over-due project. 

Southwest Light Rail:  As you may have seen in the news,  the Governor has held a series of meetings with Metropolitan Council representatives, state legislators, and local elected officials from the Southwest LRT area. In those meetings I have advocated for construction of the line, including extending the line to its initial end point, Mitchell Road.  That last stop had been eliminated from the plans for a period of time in an effort to save money.  The Governor has indicated his agreement with the wisdom of ending the line at Mitchell Road, and not the Southwest Station, which will improve accessibility and traffic flow for our community.

The SWLRT will be a vital part of a multi-modal transit approach, which needs to also include rapid bus service and will require roads and bridges in good repair.

Governor’s State of the State Address

On Wednesday evening, a joint session of the legislature listened to Governor Dayton give his State of the State Address.  I was pleased to hear his continued focus on creating good jobs, strengthening Minnesota’s economy, and investing in education to prepare workers of the future.  The Governor also touched on transit issues affecting our region, like the I-494 expansion I mentioned above.  MnDOT was able to find additional money in their budget through streamlining and finding efficiencies so that they will be able to begin work on this project sooner than expected.  Streamlining, improving efficiencies, and removing outdated rules and requirements have been priorities during this “unsession”.

Thanks to the many of you who have emailed, phoned, written letters and postcards, and have come to visit me at the capitol.  Working together, we can continue to build on the progress we have made and move MN forward again.  Please stay in touch.

As always, thank you for the honor of being your voice in St. Paul.

Yvonne Selcer
[email protected]

Senate Candidate Laurie McKendry Update

10320587_578450758920443_7655818753709143749_nOur State Senate candidate, who will be up for election in 2016, continues to work for Eden Prairie and Minnetonka.

She continues to serve on the Minnetonka Economic Advisory Commission.

Earlier this month, she received the Rotary’s Award of Excellence for community service.

You might have seen her at this year’s Eden Prairie Foundation celebration at Green Acres, or at the 2nd Annual Jackie Stevenson Dinner.

She’s also pursuing her MBA at St. Catherine’s University in St. Paul.

Gov. Dayton’s State of the State Address

Mark_DaytonGov. Mark Dayton’s workmanlike speech focused on how tough decisions and smart investments have put Minnesota on sound financial footing, turning a $6 billion deficit into a $1.2 billion surplus, paying Minnesota schools back in full the $2.8 billion owed, and ending years of accounting shifts and gimmicks. The Governor clearly outlined how his balanced approach to governing is benefitting Minnesotans. The path of making sound fiscal decisions, investing in education at all levels and investing in job creation is showing progress on many fronts, but there is more work to be done.

Gov. Dayton pointed to the significant improvement in the Minnesota economy. He highlighted the fact that Minnesota now has more jobs than ever before (2.8 million) – including 150,000 more jobs since January 2011. He highlighted the outstanding Minnesota businesses and workers who have contributed to the growing economy. He also made a strong argument about how smart public investments have helped fuel economic growth and business expansions throughout the state.

Gov. Dayton also highlighted the progress in education. He talked about how Minnesota fourth graders recently tested #1 in the nation in math —and the reading gap for African-American and Latino fourth graders closed by 10 points from 2009 to 2013. Minnesota continues to have the highest ACT scores among seniors for 8 years running, and our graduation rate, nearly 80 percent, is the highest in a decade.

Highlights of progress toward building a Better Minnesota:

  • Tough decisions and smart investments have put Minnesota on sound financial footing – turning a $6 billion deficit into a $1.2 bill surplus.
  • Businesses have added 150,000 jobs since January 2011 and Minnesota now has 2.8 million jobs – more than ever before.
  • The economic growth in greater Minnesota and public-private partnerships made many of those possible, giving specific job-creating projects.
  • Repaid Minnesota schools in full the $2.8 billion they were owed, made historic investments that froze tuition at state colleges and universities and provided Minnesota families free all-day kindergarten.

Outlined a vision for continued progress:

  • Additional investments in job creation programs and public-private partnerships, such as a larger $1.2 billion bonding bill that would fund critical economic development projects like the Lewis and Clark project in Southwest Minnesota.
  • Additional investments in education, and looking at reforms like longer school years, longer school days, to help make sure our students are prepared to continue to out-innovate and out-compete other workers in the global economy.
  • A call for unity. The Governor said, “We do share a Unity of Purpose. We all love this state. We all want to see it prosper.”


LRT and SWLRT:  A Tale of 5 Cities

Metro Light Rail Alex Kolyer for MPR

Metro Light Rail Alex Kolyer for MPR

Update — Eden Prairie’s SWLRT Open House on May 20, 2014, which precedes the public hearing, will be held in the Eden Prairie City Center’s Atrium. There, Southwest Light Rail Project staff will give an overview of the project and respond to questions from 6:00 to 7:00 PM.

The public hearing will be held in the Eden Prairie City Council Chambers at 7:00 PM. The Eden Prairie City Center is located at 8080 Mitchell Road.

Background — On April 2, the Community Advisory Committee (CAC) approved the LRT/SWLRT plans with a vote of 11 in favor and 2 against. This moved the project up to a Met Council vote on April 9. Voting against the project were Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges and Anoka County Commissioner Matt Look. The project’s recommended budget is $1.683 billion.

The tale of SWLRT has lots of twists and turns, as would be expected with a project that has gone on for more than two decades. What’s most important to know for SD48 residents is that the Eden Prairie route that received the go-ahead is the COMP plan. This Finance and Commerce article gives you an idea of how business stakeholders received the plan.

Particulars not spelled out include where the rail line will be laid on Prairie Center Drive (park, middle or business side). The latest change is that the city will get a Mitchell Road Station and 900 additional parking spaces there, as well as 400 new spaces at the Southwest Metro Bus Station.

The target date for completion of the SWLRT is 2019.

Six months ago the Chanhassen Villager gave some insight into why the COMP plan is embraced by the City. The Metropolitan Council proposed a Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) plan, which ran down the east side of Technology Drive. The City opted for a plan further south to be closer to apartment complexes and the Eden Prairie Center. The COMP plan also replaced another alternative plan that would have laid the rail line on Singletree Lane.

Where is the money to fund the project coming from?

Visit the following sites:

  • HUD
  • Living Cities

Where will the Stations Be Located?

  • 5 stations in Eden Prairie
  • 2 stations in Minnetonka
  • 2 stations in Hopkins
  • 3 stations in St. Louis Park
  • 4 stations in Minneapolis (changed from 5 at the April 2 meeting)

A map of the entire route including a diagram of the rail tunnels and freight in the Kenilworth Neighborhood can be found here.

“Project staff also recommends adjusting the route through Eden Prairie by building the tracks south of the original plan to bring light rail trains closer to the town center. It meets the city of Eden Prairie’s desire for a town center station in line with the city’s comprehensive plan, provides a multimodal connection between local buses, express buses and LRT at the Southwest Station and retains Mitchell Road Station at City Center as the line’s westernmost station.”

Minnesota Legislature’s Position on Transportation Funding, which includes the SWLRT Project:

The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce recently testified against the Transportation Bill that included the rail project. Although Metro Chambers representing southwest metro area businesses had formed a business collaboration called the Southwest Transitway Alliance to help the development of a Southwest LRT line; they included the TwinWest Chamber of Commerce, the Eden Prairie Chamber, the Minneapolis Regional Chamber, and the Edina Chamber, all joined together to provide a unified business voice for the project.

TwinCities.com reported that “…the House Transportation Finance Committee passed a bill that would raise an estimated $550 million a year with a new 5 percent sales tax on wholesale fuels to pay for roads and bridges and a -3/4-cent metro sales tax increase to expand bus and rail transit. The new fuel tax would add about 12 cents to the cost of a gallon of gasoline.”

According to TwinCities.com, “The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce testified against the bill, and all the Republicans on the committee voted “no.” That prompted House Speaker Paul Thissen to declare it all but dead.”

“Without the support of the business community and Republicans, a comprehensive transportation package will not progress any further this session,” Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, said in a statement immediately after the committee vote.”

Republicans dared the Democratic-Farmer-Labor majorities to pass the bill without GOP votes. But that would be politically dicey in a year when the governor and all 134 House members are up for election.”

Eden Prairie Council Member Brad Aho, a Republican, wrote a commentary in the Eden Prairie News opposing the SLWRT project.

Eden Prairie Mayor Nancy Tyra-Lukens supports SWLRT in Eden Prairie.

The City of Eden Prairie supports the SWLRT Project.

Finally, a rehash of the project’s history and where it goes from here—completion or further negotiation—which would probably mean a loss of funding…it’s anyone’s guess.

The two biggest issues are:

  1. Financing/increasing the project is delayed
  2. The Kenilworth Debacle. The Metropolitan Council accepted the recommendations from Hennepin County to build the LRT via the Kenilworth Corridor. Hennepin County and the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) then would be responsible to decide whether or not the Kenilworth alignment could be rerouted or resolved.

At the April 2 meeting, it was clear from public testimony and the position of Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges that neither co-location (LRT and freight together) and or shallow tunnels (which would hid and buffer the noise of LRT) would be acceptable to Minneapolis. They wanted a reroute of freight out of the Kenilworth neighborhood.

Local Eden Prairie Republican Opposition:  There is a concerted effort of opposition coming from the local Republican Party. The general complaints are against “those people” and or an “influx of people” that would use the train and live adjacent to “pack and stack housing” and how this would affect our city and schools.

No mention by Republicans of the housing requirements the city must comply with per the Fair Housing Act and HUD. Eden Prairie participates in the Hennepin County Consortium Fair Housing Initiative to provide housing for all income levels. A portion of the funding for the project is coming from HUD. Republicans also fail to mention that growth and jobs are driving the need for alternative transportation in the Twin Cities.

The Metropolitan Council’s “Thrive MSP 2040” plan is essentially about guiding the inevitable growth in order to create location efficiency which would include “connecting conveniently and affordably to jobs, schools, shops and other amenities through a range of transportation options.”

In essence the Thrive MSP 2040 plan is all about equity in addressing the future growth of the Twin Cities. In corroboration with the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the plan is intended to invest in transportation infrastructure and housing investments equitably.




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©2014 DFL SD 48. Prepared and paid for by Senate District 48 DFL, Sharon Borine, Chair, 18285 Croixwood Ln, Eden Prairie, MN 55347