Friends and Neighbors~
There is lots of work ahead! Next week (11/28) the Legislative Commission on Health Care Access begins deliberations on work group recommendations. More action to come on health care soon. But for a few days, we can rest and reflect. I hope the holiday turkey is tasty, the guests engaging and the team of your choice wins. Have a delightful Thanksgiving. Erin
Posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2007 by Erin Murphy,
So what’s up with Rock Tenn?
The Rock-Tenn Corporation owns and operates the state's largest paper recycling plant in St. Paul. The factory lost a major power source this past summer when Xcel Energy shut down its steam line, transitioning from coal to natural gas. As a result, there is a major effort underway to identify a new energy source for the plant. Rock Tenn is an important part of Minnesota’s recycling effort and there are 500 living wage jobs at risk if a new source of energy is not employed.
The legislature, in the omnibus energy bill, funded a study process to identify potential energy sources. Both the Minnesota Department of Commerce, serving as a fiscal agent, and the St. Paul Port Authority are involved in the study. The legislation also created the Rock-Tenn Community Advisory Panel to bring citizen voices to the discussion.
The RCAP, comprised of 15 local citizens, now holds public meetings on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of each month to discuss and analyze options. By next spring, the RCAP is charged with bringing recommendations regarding a new fuel source to the St. Paul City Council.
There is great involvement in this process from our neighborhoods. Citizens are clear that the energy source selected must be clean in order to protect the health of the people. Finding a clean and affordable replacement for the steam that once fueled the operation is a major challenge. Because the Rock Tenn plant is surrounded by residential neighborhoods, a clean and sustainable energy source is critical. For the future of the plant, it must be affordable. And for our future, we must chart a course that is renewable. We are fortunate to have bright and engaged participants on the RCAP.
You can participate in this discussion. Visit www.rtadvisory.org. to learn more. The next RCAP meeting will be on Monday, November 26th at 7:00 p.m. at St. Anthony Park United Methodist Church in St. Paul. The meetings are open and well attended.
Posted on Wednesday, November 14, 2007 by Erin Murphy,
Most Minnesotans love the four seasons we experience and fall is one of our favorites. It is also a predictably busy time of the year as we work on projects, hoping to finish or make progress before holidays and the cold of winter. As is typical, it is a busy fall.
Over the course of the interim, I have served on the Governor's Commission on Long Term Care, addressing the issues at the Minneapolis Vet's Home and the Minnesota Veteran's Homes. The Commission is addressing governance, care delivery and operational improvements and the future care of Minnesota Vets. I have learned a great deal about the funding of long term care, the differences between the Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the Vet's Home and about the challenges we face in caring for this population, especially considering the new returning vets from the war in Iraq. The Commission will meet one more time in November to finalize our recommendations. I am pleased with the work of the group and the concerted efforts to address the immediate issues in Minneapolis and the future of care delivery for Minnesota Vets. I look forward to sharing the recommendations with you.
I have attended a number of events in the past weeks preparing for the upcoming session.
Fresh Energy held an energy justice event and shared their agenda on justice, housing and energy conservation on the indian reservations in Minnesota.
Friends of the Mississippi is holding stakeholder meetings, dicussing the urban critical access area. I attended and listened to a variety of citizens and organizational representatives describe their experiences and ideas for the future. The meeting was constructive and folks in attendance had variety of ideas that would protect and enhance the river. Very Cool.
Merriam Park Neighbors for Peace held a forum entitled "Health Care in Crisis" and had speakers share perspectives on current reform discussions underway at the state capitol, models of financing in other nations and the ideas coming from the federal level. Senator John Marty spoke about his bill "The Minnesota Health Act" of which I am a house author.
The Wilder Foundation held its annual fundraising breakfast. We heard a number of stories of individuals whose lives are improved as a result of the work of the Wilder Foundation. Tom Kingston, Wilder Foundation CEO, reminded us of the growing gap in human and social services over the past five years and challenged all of us not to tire in our efforts to reach out and serve the least among us. I am grateful for the efforts of Wilder and its generous supporters. And I reminded of the work ahead to advance public policy to address the economic, social and educational inequities that foster continued poverty.
Finally, I attended the celebration of the lives and Paul and Sheila Wellstone, their daughter Marcia, and their staff and friends mary McEvoy, Tom Lappick and Will McLaughlin. The event was held at the College of St. Catherine and was a bittersweet celebration of the lives and contributions of those lost on October 25, 2002.
It is daylight savings time-- remember to turn your clocks back on Saturday night. I hope our paths cross soon. Don't hestiate to call or email! Peace, Erin
Posted on Thursday, November 1, 2007 by Erin Murphy,