Candidate Q&A: MN House 21A

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Goodhue County voters will elect either Democrat Lisa Bayley or Republican Barb Haley to replace incumbent Rep. Tim Kelly, who chose not to run for re-election.

The Republican Eagle asked both House candidates to answers six questions. Here were their responses.

Lisa Bayley

Party: DFL

Age: 50

Address: 725 W. Sixth St.

Occupation: Attorney in solo private practice.

Education: B.A. cum laude Harvard College, Cambridge, Mass., 1989; J.D. Georgetown

University Law Center, Washington, D.C., 2000.

Family: Husband Douglas, children Nick (age 14) and Nora (age 17).

Civic involvement: Red Wing City Council, 2008-present; Partner Table member, Every Hand Joined, 2013-present; Board Member, Red Wing League of Women Voters, (2013-2015); Board Member, Goodhue-Wabasha Sexual Assault Services, (2006-2009); Red Wing High School Robotics Team Board member, 2015-Present; served on numerous local boards and commissions as a City Council member (Housing Redevelopment Association, Nuclear Waste Committee, Library Board, Sheldon Theater Board, Sustainability Commission, Human Rights Commission).

 

What role should the state government play in funding local transportation infrastructure? Be specific.

I view transportation infrastructure as one of the basic responsibilities of state government, along with clean water, public safety and education. In our district, roads and bridges are the biggest expense, and where they serve regional needs (state aid highways and bridges, for example), I think it is the state’s role to build and maintain them.

Funds for this cost shouldn’t come solely out of the general fund, however, since I believe the users of the infrastructure (not only property owners) should bear some of the cost.

I’m glad that both parties recognize the need for a consistent, long-term mechanism to meet this need; in my opinion we should dedicate funds from a variety of sources, including looking at existing taxes and fees we already have in place which have been diverted to other uses.

 

Do you support current restrictions on nuclear power generation, or would you like to see them reduced or increased? What role do you see renewable energy generation playing in your district’s energy portfolio moving forward?

I am a supporter of nuclear power, as it is efficient, reliable, tightly regulated, provides great jobs and has fewer greenhouse emissions than other forms of energy production. However, I am concerned about the safe, effective disposal of nuclear waste, and will continue to work with our partners (Xcel Energy and the Prairie Island Indian Community) to encourage the federal government to remove it from our area.

We are fortunate to have Xcel in our community, and I believe their company-wide plan for a diversified renewable energy portfolio in the coming years is a good one. I would encourage and support a similar mix in our own district. As always, however, we need to balance the energy needs of the community with the impact on our local landowners, especially as it relates to wind.

 

What steps do you support to stimulate the growth of jobs? How do you think an increased minimum wage for the Twin Cities might affect the rest of the state?

Keeping business taxes as low as possible, reducing unnecessary regulations and providing employers with an educated, energized work force are all ways we can continue to bring high quality jobs to this area. We are fortunate to have significant manufacturing and high technology firms in this district.

I want to support those firms and bring in others by providing the reliable transportation and technology (broadband, especially) infrastructure they need to grow.

I am concerned about the impact of individual local governments imposing differing wage and labor requirements and will be watching the impact closely.

 

Health care costs have increased under the Affordable Care Act, and it remains unpopular with many Americans. What specific reforms, if any, do you support regarding MNsure, its districts and insurance coverage?

MNSure, which provides a marketplace for Minnesotans buying healthcare on the individual market, had a difficult start — fortunately it has improved, but it needs to be closely monitored. MNSure is not the source, however, of high health care costs, and simply scrapping MnSure and going on the federal exchange will not bring costs down. This just outsources our problem and forces us to pay outsiders to manage our options.

I would rather we fix this problem in Minnesota by expanding the pool of insureds, perhaps by allowing people to buy into Minnesota Care, requiring transparency in billing and reducing prescription drug costs. Health insurance premiums are also unfairly high in our area, so I would support fighting for a federal waiver to allow us to re-draw the districts for insurance rates.

This is a huge issue for so many people, and we need to be open to big reforms to move us forward. In the short term, we can do things like connecting people with MNsure tax credits and providing premium rebates, funded by eliminating tax cuts for tobacco companies.

 

Should Real ID measures for Minnesota allow undocumented immigrants to obtain state driver’s licenses?

This is a public safety issue, one that is supported by many local law enforcement officers. In this district, workers need to drive to farms and factories where there is no public transportation. I would rather have trained, insured drivers on our roads than the alternative, so we need to work in a smart, bi-partisan way, including listening to law enforcement, employers and employees about solving the problem.

 

What issues set you apart from your opponent?

I believe government should provide essential services in an efficient, careful, compassionate way, and then get out of people’s lives as much as possible. I am a moderate on most issues; I truly believe the best way to move forward is by working together, listening to all views, welcoming newcomers and laying an even playing ground for our businesses to compete and thrive. My experience of the last eight years on the Red Wing City Council has taught me that in a very personal way.

I’ve answered to people in line at the grocery store about decisions we’ve made and taken angry calls at night. This has made me very sensitive to the impact of government on people’s lives. Finally, I believe my experience and abilities as an advocate will serve the district well in St. Paul.

Barb Haley

Party: Republican

Age: 52

Address: 30921 Lakeview Ave.

Occupation: Mother and community volunteer

Education: B.A. University of St. Thomas with majors in international studies and German, minor in economics

Family: Husband of 29 years, Tim; two teenage children, Joey and Maria

Civic involvement:  Current YMCA board vice chair and chair of the membership committee; Women Cents board, and multiple committees for Red Wing Ignite; I volunteered to help the Chamber and the High School design a program for students to be involved in Manufacturing Week, high school Robotics team, Winger Tech; former board chair of the Fairview Hospital during the negotiations with Mayo; St. Joseph Catholic Church and a confirmation teacher; my husband and I founded Haley’s Hope Charity Fund that raised over $600,000 over 10 years for Children’s Hospital NICU.

 

What role should the state government play in funding local transportation infrastructure? Be specific.

I believe parents getting their kids to school and themselves to work and business owners

delivering goods to market know what is best for our local transportation needs. Local transportation infrastructure should be planned and funded by the local entity (city, county, or municipality) that is going to be responsible for using it and administering it, to the extent possible.

The state government collects the gas tax from across the state and distributes it to state, county, municipal, and township roads. Even though the state administers the funding, the tax is collected from all over the state, and once distributed to the local unit of government they have a substantial amount of leeway on which roads it can be used for, provided it meets generally accepted criteria for road construction and design.

I support the Republican-led effort this session to establish a first-ever Small Cities Funding that provides state dollars to cities under 5,000, like Cannon Falls, Wabasha and Goodhue to improve their road and bridge infrastructure. The state government is best suited to funding and overseeing the state highway system, which compromises the arteries that run across many jurisdictions, and where high-level planning is required.

 

Do you support current restrictions on nuclear power generation, or would you like to see them reduced or increased? What role do you see renewable energy generation playing in your district’s energy portfolio moving forward?

I support a balanced approach to keeping the lights on in our homes and our businesses. I will work to keep constituents’ energy reliable and costs low. Nuclear power supplies more than 20 percent of the state’s electricity and provides critical “base load” power availability 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

In addition, nuclear power is the state’s largest source of carbon-free electricity, which is good news for those concerned with carbon emissions. Nuclear power is critical to maintaining a reliable and affordable electrical system in the state, and I believe restrictions on replacing our aging nuclear units, like Prairie Island, are not helpful.

Xcel Energy has been a great employer and community partner for many years. The Prairie Island plant provides $22 million in taxes to our city, county and school district and employs 750 people, with another 1,000 contractors during outages. I also support renewable energy as a useful part of a balanced energy portfolio, including nuclear, coal, natural gas and hydropower.

 

What steps do you support to stimulate the growth of jobs? How do you think an increased minimum wage for the Twin Cities might affect the rest of the state?

I intend on bringing my experience in job growth and workforce issues to the Capitol. I know from my work with Red Wing WORKS and on the Red Wing Chamber of Commerce that we can do more to improve the state’s economy by implementing common sense tax reductions and reducing burdensome regulations that make doing business more difficult without actually helping consumers or protecting the environment.

Throughout my campaign, I have visited many area businesses and talked with employers. They have told me that an increased minimum wage would cause many of them to reduce hiring or even have to lay off workers. I have found that our local employers are doing many things to recruit and retain quality workers through a variety of benefits and workplace incentives, in addition to competitive wages.

Overall, I believe we need to start giving job creators a reason to move to and expand in Minnesota, rather than reasons to leave. I also value hard work; my first job was detasseling corn on a Goodhue County farm. I want all Minnesotans to have the opportunity to earn a good-paying job, but an increased minimum wage for the Twin Cities would have a negative impact on the rest of the state.

A patchwork of different wage rates will make compliance difficult and expensive for businesses across the state, rendering innocent bookkeeping errors into significant liabilities.

 

Health care costs have increased under the Affordable Care Act, and it remains unpopular with many Americans. What specific reforms, if any, do you support regarding MNsure, its districts and insurance coverage?

Costs have not only increased under the ACA, they are skyrocketing in southeastern Minnesota. Individual policy holders, including farmers, small businesses, and people who are self-employed, are facing premium increases of 50-67 percent. Their insurance costs are more than their mortgage payments and are unsustainable.

I have met many, many people who are facing a crisis in being able to afford insurance and find coverage. Even Obamacare’s most ardent supporter, Gov. Mark Dayton, believes the individual market is broken and needs immediate overhaul. I agree.

The first four things I would advocate for are:

1. Re-institute the MCHA high-risk pool so that the highest medical cost persons are not funded solely by the smallest insurance pool — the individual market (which makes up only about 5 percent of Minnesota’s total market),

2. Like a bad investment, let’s cut our losses and eliminate MNsure and move to the federal exchange. Minnesotans shouldn’t need to pay for two separate exchanges, especially when our state exchange has cost taxpayers $400 million dollars and yet still doesn’t work properly.

3. Make individual premiums tax deductible (like employer sponsored plans are).

4. Work with the main provider of care in southeastern Minnesota to continue to look for ways to reduce costs. A common misunderstanding is that our rating area or “district” was changed due to Obamacare. These rating areas have been in place for years. The easy solution that the DFL advocates is to have one district for the entire state or to put the southeastern Minnesota district in with the metro. The reality is that other communities will not want to subsidize our district.

 

Should Real ID measures for Minnesota allow undocumented immigrants to obtain state driver’s licenses?

Real ID was enacted by the federal government as a counterterrorism measure. At a time when our nation is at war with terrorism, our elected officials’ first responsibility should be keeping our communities safe. The Real ID bill is not the place to attach an unrelated and complex immigration policy reform that should be fully vetted by the Legislature on its own.

 

What issues set you apart from your opponent?

I believe I have the right experience for the time. I am a proven, results-driven leader who has and will work with differing groups of people to get things done. We are faced with issues in health care, in job creation and economic growth, and in making government more efficient with our tax dollars.

I served on the local hospital board when the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) was being formulated in Washington, and we had to determine how to keep our local hospital and clinics here. I led the strategic planning and decision-making to find solutions and lay the groundwork for providing high quality care, cost-effectively, close to home.

I have worked in business — both for a start-up and for a large company. I led a successful 15-year career where I managed large budgets and sales teams across the Midwest. I oversaw new product launches, developed nationwide sales training programs and orchestrated long-range planning. I understand what it takes to build a business, how to grow jobs and how burdensome taxes and regulations impact economic growth.

I have also worked in the nonprofit sector.

I know how important it is to the people of Minnesota that tax dollars get spent wisely. We need our state government to eliminate wasteful spending so that we have the resources to meet important needs. I have heard from many of you that you expect government to be efficient with your taxpayer dollars, just like you are with your own family budgets.

Lastly, I have knowledge and experience in the field of education and linking education to jobs. As the first executive director, I helped create and launch Every Hand Joined — the successful community partnership that is delivering results to improve educational outcomes from pre-K to graduation and beyond. I have done the research and worked with the administration as well as the teaching staff to vet new approaches and implement new programs to help all kids succeed.

When I see a gap or an opportunity for our community to come together, I act. Whether that was providing training and raising funds for nonprofits through SteppsUp, working with our schools, or serving on our local hospital board, I have proven that I can get results. I can build relationships and motivate people to work together for our common good. That is what is needed in St. Paul.