Peggy Bennett: Share your thoughts with elected officials

Published 9:00 am Sunday, March 12, 2017

Capitol Comments by Peggy Bennett

One of the most important parts of being a state representative is listening, learning and responding to all the people we represent. It’s my favorite aspect of being in St. Paul, and I can’t stress how important it is to hear from those in my area.

Sharing one’s opinion and experiences can have a big impact on legislation in our state. The best example I can think of relates to my firefighter bill. The idea for this bill started because Albert Lea firefighters had been seeing increased incidents of cancer within their department.

Peggy Bennett

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One of these heroes, Brett Boss, has been a leader in advocating for creating a cancer database for Minnesota firefighters, along with other firefighter issues. This way, the state can track the causes of higher cancer rates in firefighters, and we can combat this growing problem. It’s important to understand how the civic involvement from Brett and his fellow firefighters helped craft this legislation. They’ve continually worked with me to create legislation that respects their profession, and can help the firefighters of the future.

If it weren’t for the constant dialogue and assistance from individuals with the Albert Lea Fire Department, it would be much more difficult for me to move this bill through the committee process. This and other local bills, like improvements to the Stables neighborhood sewer system, finishing the Blazing Star Trail or funding Riverland Community College, come from what area residents tell me are most important. I always want to hear what our district thinks and will advocate that way.

Especially this time of year, I can’t stress enough how important it is to share your thoughts, ideas and questions with your elected officials. In the Legislature we’re hitting our committee deadlines, and will soon be putting together our state budget proposals. This includes omnibus bills in subject areas like education, tax relief, health and human services and more.

I know what I believe on these issues, but it’s just as important for me to know what my constituents feel on these topics. Whether we agree or disagree, I’ll always listen and am willing to have a respectful discussion on anything our residents are passionate about. It’s my job to listen to all sides and hear all opinions. This can be difficult because, many times, both sides are passionate about their cause. But I need to hear all views in order to know how best to represent the district. I use all that input to make the best decision I can for our area and our state.

If you’re on the fence on whether or not to reach out and contact your local legislators or elected officials, please know how important your voice can be. I welcome all input, and hope residents will contact me to share their thoughts. I can be reached at or 651-296-8216.

Peggy Bennett, R-Albert Lea, is the District 27A representative.