By Rep. Ron Kresha, Guest Columnist
On Tuesday, I was honored to take the oath of office and be sworn in along with 133 of my fellow colleagues in the Minnesota House of Representatives as the 88th Legislative Session officially began. I am deeply grateful to my friends and neighbors in District 9B for placing their trust in me to represent our community.
I have deep concerns about Speaker Paul Thissen’s decision to eliminate the House Agriculture and Rural Development Finance Committee, and combine it with the Environment Finance Committee, currently chaired by Rep. Jean Wagenius, DFL-Minneapolis. Rep. Wagenius has very little experience with agriculture issues, and has a record of voting for policies that disproportionately favor Metro cities and suburbs over Greater Minnesota. I worry that rural Minnesota’s voice and influence will be greatly diminished if the Agriculture Finance Committee remains in the hands of a Metro legislator.
For that reason, I joined with my fellow Republicans Tuesday, in voting for a motion that would have moved the Agriculture Finance Committee and recombined it with the Agriculture Policy Committee, as it has been in the past. That committee is chaired by Rep. Jeanne Poppe, a rural Democrat who better understands the issues and challenges facing our state’s agriculture industry.
The motion was introduced by Rep. Rod Hamilton, a Republican pork producer from Southwest Minnesota. He gave a compelling plea for bipartisan support, and I cast my first vote in support of our rural district and agriculture industry.
I will continue to push for the committee change and will continue to advocate for rural Minnesota. It will be one of my highest priorities this session to ensure that rural Minnesota is adequately represented, and that we keep the best interests of rural Minnesota and our agriculture industry in mind when passing legislation.
Ron Kresha, R-Little Falls, represents House District 9B, which includes most of Morrison County.