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ELECTION GUIDE: State Senate District 11

STATE SENATE District 11

Republican: Jason Rarick (Incumbent)

Briefly summarize your personal background and qualifications. (limit 50 words)

I am a lifelong resident of Pine County, a union electrician, and self-employed electrical contractor. I have served in the legislature for eight years now, primarily focused on issues related to jobs, energy, higher education.

Please describe where you stand on the following issues in 25 words or fewer (each):

• The unspent $7.2 billion budget surplus? I believe the surplus should be used primarily for tax cuts, focused on ending social security taxes and lowering the first tier of income taxes.

• Copper/nickel mining? Mining for precious metals in NE Minnesota is very important. We should not be bringing in these metals from countries that follow zero environmental regulations and pay substandard wages.

• Legalizing marijuana? I do not support legalizing recreational marijuana. I do support fixing the medical marijuana system and expanding the hemp industry in Minnesota.

The legislature failed to pass the bonding bill and other critical legislation again this session. What do you think needs to happen to stop this cycle of government paralysis? (limit 75 words)

We are seeing more and more people being elected, on both sides of the aisle, that are activists rather than leaders. These legislators refuse to compromise, which leads to nothing getting done. I have worked across the aisle to pass several pieces of key legislation in my time at the legislature and am committed to continue doing just that. It is next to impossible to work with someone though, who refuses to compromise and believes their opinion or view is the only one that is right. When more people are elected who are there to find solutions to issues rather than advocate for one or two special interests, then we will see an effective legislature.

Now that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v Wade, states can decide the issue. Where do you stand on abortion rights? (limit 100 words)

I have always supported life, from conception to natural death. That said, I also understand that is not everyone's belief. I believe there should be some limits set on abortion, and the Supreme Court decision now puts that back in the hands of individual states. The reality in Minnesota is that there is a Minnesota Supreme Court decision, Doe v Gomez, which is equivalent to what Roe v Wade was. So for now in Minnesota, any law passed to limit abortion would be challenged in court, and would be struck down by this current Court.

Nursing homes are in trouble. What, if anything, do you think the state can do to help? (limit 100 words)

The major issue facing our nursing homes is the Medicare reimbursement rates are way too low. That, unfortunately, is a federal issue. At the state level, we can and should address 3 issues. We should support retention bonuses for those who worked through the pandemic, and offer hiring bonuses and training funds to attract more people to help care for our elderly. Second, we should move up the advance disability waiver rate setting to help providers with cash flow problems. Third, we should streamline programs so that they work together better to get more effective care and save money.

Many of our public schools are struggling financially and less safe than they've ever been. What, if anything, do you think the state can do to help? (limit 100 words)

The state can help our schools with some funding to help secure our school campuses so that they can improve safety. I also believe we should step back on so many of the requirements we have put in place for graduation. These standards have focused solely on students who are going to college and fail to see the different needs for those who are looking for a trade school or vocational education. Allowing local school boards to choose the types of testing and how often students will be tested is another option we need to consider, so teachers can quit focusing so much attention towards preparing for tests.

University tuition and student debt are higher than ever. What should be the role of the legislature in this issue? (limit 100 words)

There are so many issues that need to be addressed to make education more affordable. First and foremost is to help students understand the options they have, and to get them on the best path for them to get the education they need for the career they have chosen. Sending the majority of our students to college has overburdened the system, made it inefficient, and has led to many students getting degrees in areas in which they cannot get a job. We need to look to our successful schools, like Pine Technical and CC and Fond du Lac CC, and follow the examples that they have put in place that puts student learning and success first.

What is another important issue facing the state of Minnesota and how would you address it? (limit 75 words)

The energy transition is another issue we must address. Government mandates will not get us to a cleaner energy future, technology will. While we make this transition, we must consider three things; being better stewards for the environment, keeping energy affordable, and keeping our system reliable. We must be open to all options and technologies that are emerging, including small modular nuclear, as we move towards our energy future.

Democratic-Farmer-Labor: Michelle Boyechko

Briefly summarize your personal background and qualifications. (limit 50 words)

I am just a regular Minnesotan, working hard building our small family farm over the last nine years from the ground up. I've faced a lot of the same struggles and joys as people all over Minnesota. I have strong opinions on the issues facing our state and nation, but I am willing to sit down to listen and learn.

Please describe where you stand on the following issues in 25 words or fewer (each):

• The unspent $7.2 billion budget surplus? A large part of the unspent budget surplus should be put toward our state's public school system to make needed upgrades, fund mandates, pay teachers and supply class rooms.

• Copper/nickel mining? Mining for rare minerals needs to be done in such a way that it will not endanger vital resources in Minnesota.

• Legalizing marijuana? Cannabis should be legalized and done so in a way that reduces barriers for individuals and communities most adversely impacted by the enforcement of cannabis-related laws.

The legislature failed to pass the bonding bill and other critical legislation again this session. What do you think needs to happen to stop this cycle of government paralysis? (limit 75 words)

The failure to pass the bonding bill seemed to me to be due to GOP lawmakers walking away because they didn't get the deal they wanted in spending the state budget surplus. So rather than getting some work done for Minnesotans, they chose to do no work. If we want to stop this round after round of obstructionist tactics we need to vote out the Republican lawmakers and representatives that vote no just so the "other side" doesn't get a "win." Because when our representatives vote along party lines rather than what is good for Minnesota, we all lose.

Now that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v Wade, states can decide the issue. Where do you stand on abortion rights? (limit 100 words)

The Supreme Court draft leak on Roe was one of the catalysts for my Senate run. A pregnant person should have the right to a safe, legal and accessible abortion. If Republicans were really "pro-life" they would be fighting for age-appropriate sexual education, accessible and affordable contraceptives, excellent medical care from pregnancy through birth, affordable and accessible child care, increased social safety nets such as WIC and funding for K-12 education. Instead they fight against all of this. That is not pro-life, that is forced birth. The government DOES NOT belong between a patient and doctor.

Nursing homes are in trouble. What, if anything, do you think the state can do to help? (limit 100 words)

Nursing homes are indeed in trouble. Many of these homes are run as a for-profit enterprise by private individuals. Staff are underpaid, overstaffed and undertrained. Homes choose not to maintain accreditations for memory care due to cost but still have the same patients with the memory care needs in their facilities. Patients and families lose everything financially to keep their loved ones somewhere that is safe for them, only to have them taken care of by teens with minimal experience. I believe more oversight is needed to make sure owners are putting an appropriate amount of money back into staffing and building upkeep.

Many of our public schools are struggling financially and less safe than they've ever been. What, if anything, do you think the state can do to help? (limit 100 words)

Having schools funded by the taxes of the surrounding communities leaves rural and impoverished areas at a huge disadvantage. We need to make funding more equitable throughout the state. I believe the collected taxes should go into a general public school funding pool so all Minnesota kids are prepared for college and adult life. Teachers need to be paid more, be provided the supplies they need and be allowed to teach their subjects. I strongly believe schools should have licensed counselors available to students.

University tuition and student debt are higher than ever. What should be the role of the legislature in this issue? (limit 100 words)

I don't have an opinion on this issue at this time, because I need to do more research about this specific topic. I won't go by a Republican or Democrats talking point on the matter. I instead want to listen to the voters, and speak with experts about this topic before I give my opinion.

What is another important issue facing the state of Minnesota and how would you address it? (limit 75 words)

Currently there is an orchestrated movement by GOP members across the country to further dismantle Tribal Sovereignty. This is being done in an effort to allow the states to take Tribal resources like rights to gaming, land, water, oil/gas and minerals. I believe it is imperative that the state government work with the Native Tribes to protect and maintain their right to self-govern.

 
 
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