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I'm MN State Rep. Jeremy Kalin. It's been too long since I've posted here. Last year, I was asked by the White House to chair a national coalition of state legislators working on Clean Energy and Climate Change policies around the country. A former state lawmaker, President Obama understands our leadership role. He knows we need a comprehensive climate and clean energy bill from Congress this year.

In January 2010, CLEAN (the Coalition of Legislators for Energy Action Now) delivered our letter (pdf), signed by 1,210 state legislators from 49 states and both parties, to President Obama and to Congress calling on them to deliver a meaningful energy and climate bill that secures our nation, creates jobs, and shows America's leadership in the world again.

We've held national security forums with generals and admirals, talked to Senators and key staff, offered Op-Eds, and met in the White House to urge action now.

Now we need your help. Stop the Big Oil Bailout.

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On this date, 233 years ago, the Continental Congress formally declared their sovereignty and independence. The 6th indictment of the King of England:

He has refused, for a long time after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected...

The greatness of our nation is founded on the principle that by peaceful elections, we the people decide our own representatives. This great proposition has served our country for over 2 centuries.

The week of Independence Day, you can imagine my anger at reading this horribly inaccurate and partisan editorial by the Wall Street Journal: The 'Absentee' Senator, concluding:

Mr. Franken now goes to the Senate having effectively stolen an election. If the GOP hopes to avoid repeats, it should learn from Minnesota that modern elections don't end when voters cast their ballots. They only end after the lawyers count them.

And now, Rush Limbaugh suggests that Minnesota is like Iran?! Oh my...

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At the Minnesota State Capitol, Governor Tim Pawlenty (R) pulled his best impression of George W. Bush last week, suggesting that he and he alone would balance the state budget. He does have the line-item veto authority, but he would also have to use the unallotment tool by a factor of almost 10 times more than any other time in state history.

In Tim Pawlenty's words,

It was not an offer, it was a decision.

The Governor has chosen to go it alone, cutting our hospitals and nursing homes deeply, and increasing property taxes again - on top of his $3.1 billion in property taxes already.

In between trying to prevent the deep, deep cuts Governor Pawlenty wants to make singlehandedly, I buzzed over to give the commencement address at the University of Minnesota College of Design. I thought it hit on the very crux of our challenge, both in Minnesota and on the national level.

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An estimated 6 million Americans might from an overseas location this year. Will their votes be counted? (and how you can help!)

I returned to Minnesota late Tuesday night after spending Monday and Tuesday at the "Democracy at a Distance" national military and overseas voting summit. The Pew Trusts and the JEHT Foundation sponsored the conference to ensure that every military voter and every overseas American can be guaranteed their votes will finally count this year.

NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday ran a great story about the conference that you can listen to yourself.

In Minnesota's 2006 election, 81% of our troops who tried to vote did not have their ballots counted(source: Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie). The delay in mail as well as outdated laws and red tape are to blame for this unacceptable situation.

In 2008, my Military and Overseas Voting Bill ended this injustice in Minnesota.

More after the flip...

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Just 360 days ago, in the Emergency Operations Center in the basement of Minneapolis City Hall, I had the honor and pleasure as a member of the House Public Safety Policy Committee of personally thanking the Emergency Management directors responding to the 35W bridge collapse. They are heroes, whose preparation, training, and good judgment saved dozens of lives that night.

Unfortunately, I also heard bad news that day. A whistleblower told me that MnDOT did not have the appropriate person on the job. A few weeks later, we learned that Sonia Pitt, the director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management at MnDOT, had failed to return home after the bridge collapse - for TEN DAYS.

More after the fold...

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Sat Jan 05, 2008 at 04:06 PM PST

A riff on "Integrity"

by State Rep Jeremy Kalin

DemFromCT's front page post about integrity, especially vis-a-vis the Clinton campaign, struck a chord for me.

I campaigned for the Minnesota House of Representatives twice before winning. I poured myself into the campaign, working much less than full time, knowing that this effort was needed to defeat a fairly popular incumbent.

I was the challenger. It was fairly easy to take positions I believed in, knowing that my challenge was to connect with voters based on my values and my basic core issues: First, putting people's needs ahead of political posturing; Second, on the issues, focus on roads, schools, health care, property tax reform, and the environment.

My opponent was a two-termer, who had been Mayor and City Councilor for a total of 8 years before that. He had been a fairly popular moderate as a local politician, but increasingly voted the party line as a State Rep.

Bear with me, on the flip...

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UPDATE: See the comment just after the fold...

I've yet to endorse a candidate for President, but I am concerned about the FEC's proposed Advisory Opinion that Adam B, Markos and others have blogged about already.

Minnesota's Political Contribution Rebate program continues to be a resounding success, ensuring that candidates need present the best ideas to the voters, not the highest personal bank balance. Minnesota's long tradition of a citizen legislature has continued largely because of this 3-decade-old program, even as other states' legislatures grow increasingly professionalized. Come to think of it, I think a President closer in touch with the rest of the citizenry would be a fine development, too.

Small-amount individual donors should be the backbone of any campaign finance system, short of public financing. We legislators - and the FEC - should not erect new barriers for individual citizens legally seeking a voice in the political process.

My letter, sent this morning to the FEC, is below the fold.

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Wedding weekend begins with family photos with the soon-to-be-in-laws in an hour or so - ironically just a mile upstream from the bridge. I'll try to stick around as long as I can to answer any questions you have.

I've been trying to keep you - and my constituents first and foremost - current with the most up-to-date information I have.

My first diary is available here: 35W Bridge Update (#1).
My second diary is available here: 35W Bridge Update #2.

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I want to continue to keep you all in the loop about the latest developments with the 35W bridge collapse. In addition to preparing for our wedding this Sunday, I've been busy with emails, phone calls, conference calls, and visits to the bridge site itself.

There are a lot of issues for the legislature to deal with in the aftermath of the bridge disaster. We are just now beginning to get a scope of the challenges ahead, and 3 of my 4 committee assignments are directly involved: Transportation, Public Safety, and Energy (the University's steam heating plant is 2 blocks from the bridge site, and its rail service line is partially disabled by the debris).

In this diary:

  • State Emergency Resolution
  • Conference Call on Sunday
  • My Site Visit Today
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I wanted to quickly update you on the Bridge Tragedy response. As you may know, I serve on the Transportation Committee in the MN House. I am also Vice-Chair of the Public Safety Policy Committee.

I want to keep you all up to date with the most current information, as I have received it.

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Dear Friends,

As a general rule, I try not to post my regular news columns as blogposts. I figure that anyone can read these articles on my website under the "News and Views" link.

But this week is a little bit different. The United States Senate tonight is taking another step toward exhibiting even 1/10th of the courage that our troops in country show every day.

And this week, Minnesota celebrates the safe return of the "Red Bulls" - the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the U.S. 34th Infantry Division of the Minnesota National Guard. The Red Bulls unit includes soldiers from Chisago County, my home community.

Given the timeliness of the return of the Red Bulls, I want to share with you the column I submitted yesterday to the Chisago County Press for publication this week or next, outlining the Military Voting Bill I've sponsored in the Minnesota House.

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Please recommend to raise visibility. Thanks! - Jeremy

To raise attention about hunger across America, I'm participating in the Minnesota Food Stamp Challenge. The project's partners have a great website that's worth checking out: http://mnfoodstampchallenge.blogspot...

My experience was part of a story on thelocal news and was included in the local Minnesota Public Radio Mid Morning-Show yesterday (around 25-28 mins into the program). MnPublius.com also posted about a few of us taking the challenge.

You can read my first 3 days here:
$3/day - Foodstamp Challenge Day 1, and
$3/day - Foodstamp Challenge Days 2&3

Day 4 and through lunch today, Day 5, are below.

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