Woodbury Rep. Andrea Kieffer Readies For New Session
The Republican plans to introduce two pieces of legislation that didn’t pass last year; says she will run again in 2012.
The lawmaker who represents the bulk of Woodbury in the state House hopes to hit the ground running when the 2012 legislative session begins next Tuesday.
In a Tuesday interview with Woodbury Patch, Keiffer touched on a few things she hopes to accomplish early on this year, as well as the climate at the Capitol in the wake of last year’s government shutdown and other facets of her job in the state Legislature.
The Work Ahead
Asked about what she wants to accomplish this session, Kieffer quickly pointed to two bills that didn’t pass last year.
First, she hopes to pass a bill that would require a basic-skills test for new teachers that aims to “up the bar” on state requirements.
Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed the measure last year, and Kieffer said she has worked to tweak the bill to address the problems the governor laid out in his veto letter. She said the issues Dayton had with last year’s version of the bill “weren’t anything major.”
“Hopefully, we’ve appeased those concerns,” Kieffer said.
“He fully supports it and thinks it’s a great bill,” Kieffer said.
Otherwise, Kieffer said she plans to work on tax reform, small-business development and streamlining government operations, though she conceded that the last of those is an uphill battle. She said she once looked eliminating health care and retirement benefits for lawmakers.
“That went over like a lead balloon,” she said.
The Minnesota Legislature didn’t finish its work on time last year, leading to an unprecedented government shutdown.
How will the mood between the two major parties be this year?
“Honestly, I don’t know,” Kieffer said.
However, she did note that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have worked well together on education reform and on bills to help small businesses. Kieffer, a Republican, said she tries to find a Democrat to sponsor her bills in the upper chamber. “And I’ve done the same with them.”
Kieffer said much of the division between Democrats and Republicans is media-driven.
“What you see in the media is the partisanship and the drama,” she said. “There’s a lot of good work that happens behind the scenes, but it’s not as interesting, so they don’t cover it.”
What has dominated much of the off-season for legislators is the off-season for the Vikings and where they will play their home games in the coming years.
For Kieffer, it’s not much of a concern. She said it’s not her job to come up with a new stadium plan and will address it when a bill hits the House floor. (In a news conference Wednesday, Dayton said each stadium plan has its drawbacks and he did not name a preferred site.)
Kieffer said she wants the Vikings to remain in Minnesota but acknowledges most Minnesotans aren’t enthused about the idea of paying more taxes.
Plus, there aren’t any plans for a new Vikings stadium in Woodbury.
“They haven’t even asked me,” Kieffer said, and laughed. “I thought the State Farm building in Woodbury would be a good place.”
Though the state Legislature typically switches from budget to bonding every other year, the governor, as part of his agreement to end the shutdown, required lawmakers to pass a bonding bill last year.
“I wasn’t really happy with that, but it is what it is,” Kieffer said.
This year will also see capital-improvement projects on the table for Minnesota. Kieffer said she has heard that much of the money will go toward “necessary” projects such as roads and bridges.
Woodbury typically doesn’t see any money from state bonding bills, and a search of the word “Woodbury” in the governor’s latest proposal didn’t yield any results.
Meanwhile, Kieffer said she’s looking forward to seeing who the Democrats put up against her for the 2012 election and how redistricting will impact whom she represents.
“I’ve truly enjoyed representing Woodbury,” Kieffer said. “It’s going to be an exciting year.”
Note: Look for a story with Sen. Ted Lillie on Friday.