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District 21A candidates share their visions at forum

October 2, 2018
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Barb Haley

RED WING — Candidates for House District 21A — covering most of northern Goodhue County from the Prairie Island Indian Community to Wabasha and across to Cannon Falls — squared off Thursday night.

In a forum moderated by the Red Wing League of Women Voters, incumbent Rep. Barb Haley, R-Red Wing, and DFL challenger Lori Ann Clark answered a series of questions for nearly an hour. Below are candidates’ answers to questions.

Can Minnesota provide affordable medical insurance for everyone?

Haley: Talking to potential voters, health insurance is the No. 1 issue, she said. During the last legislative session, Minnesota funded a 25 percent premium reduction. Minnesota had one of the best insurance markets before the Affordable Care Act was passed. “The market has changed in last seven years,” she said. “The federal government sets the rules we operate under.”

Clark: “Ninety percent of Minnesotans are already covered by their employer, but they’re still concerned about premiums, high deductibles and drug costs,” she said. High administrative costs and “irrational pricing” are a big part of the problem.

Should there be term limits on legislators?

Haley: “The best term limits happen in the voting booth,” she said. With term limits, “more and more power actually ends up in the hands of the lobbyists because they don’t have term limits.”

Clark: While there is a lot to learn when getting elected, so experience matters, she said, special interests and lobbyists create gridlock. “Lobbyists are too connected to the politicians,” she said, advocating a 10- to 12-year limit.

Do you support arming teachers in the classroom?

Haley: “I support the Second Amendment,” she said. But any real changes for gun control won’t happen unless the Constitution is changed. Instead, she said, she supports a proposal passed — and vetoed by Gov. Mark Dayton — to fund more safety and resource officers in schools.

Clark: “Almost 80 percent of Minnesotans wanted action from our legislature on gun control this year,” she said. “People are very clear they want action taken.”

How do we promote more day care and keep it affordable for Minnesota families?

Haley: “I would like to point out we have a child care assistance fund in the state,” she said, adding that $100,000 of that fund was dispersed fraudulently under Gov. Dayton. She would advocate working with schools and churches to promote institutional-based child care.

Clark: She talked to child care providers at a recent gathering in Lake City, and said that they complained about forms and regulations as stress within the industry.

How will you avoid voting the party line?

Haley: Touting her place among the top 10 bipartisan legislators in the Minnesota House, she said, “I look at each issue and take it on its merit.” All that while passing more than $30 million on bonding funds for her district.

Clark: “My colors are purple for a reason,” she said. “I don’t think I’ll have any problem voting across party lines, reaching across the aisle.” She said she’d already stood up to DFL leadership when it comes to how to run her campaign.

How would you handle the opioid problem, and what happened to 1 cent a pill bill (to fund anti-drug abuse and treatment programs)?

Haley: “We debated (the penny per pill bill) for quite some time,” she said. “Ultimately, the cost would be transferred to the consumer.” Instead, she said she’d prefer a licensing fee on pharmacies. “We’ll address this in the 2019 legislative session.”

Clark: “I wish that had passed,” she said. “But meth is a bigger issue in (District) 21A than opioids.” Since pharmaceutical companies helped create the opioid crisis, they should help fund the fight against the problem.

Should Minnesota support sanctuary cities?

Haley: “I am not an advocate of sanctuary cities. We’re a nation of laws and laws need to be upheld,” she said, adding that the nation needs bipartisan immigration reform.

Clark: When federal officers are doing their job and using state resources, she said, “then you or I are paying for that federal work.”

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