by Joni Astrup
Transportation issues are high on the list of priorities in the area Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer represents, and that’s fine with her.
“I just really enjoy working on it because I know what it means to people,” she said. “It moves jobs. It moves families. It moves tourists. It saves time, money, gas, all that kind of stuff.”
Kiffmeyer, a Republican from Big Lake, touched on transportation and other issues during an Elk River Area Chamber of Commerce “Talking Business with Legislators” event Feb. 28 at the Guardian Angels offices in Elk River. Her Senate district includes Elk River, Big Lake, Otsego, St. Michael, Albertville and Hanover, and parts of key transportation corridors like Interstate 94 and highways 101 and 169.
Kiffmeyer recently worked on getting funding for improvements to I-94. She said she’s very excited about the expansion of I-94 from Rogers to County Road 241 in St. Michael — Phase I — and is working on Phase II up to Albertville.
A groundswell of local support and lobbying was key in securing recent funding for the I-94 project, Kiffmeyer said. Phone calls, emails and letters all helped.
“Quantity does matter. Persistence matters,” she said.
She plans to introduce legislation this session for a highway project in the Elk River area.
On other issues, Kiffmeyer said she has worked closely with Elk River Area School District Superintendent Mark Bezek on school funding.
“(We’re) making some progress on equity in education. The problem is they gave us on this hand and took with this hand,” she said, referring to opposite hands. “That makes it very difficult.”
However, she said she has another bill dealing with equity that is coming forward that would help the Elk River Area School District.
On the minimum wage issue, Kiffmeyer said she supports federal conformity, which is $7.25 an hour.
Overall, Kiffmeyer said she takes to heart a quote, on a page yellowed with age, that is posted on her refrigerator. Written by Edward Everett Hale, it reads: “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”
Kiffmeyer said that’s what she does every single day — “the something that I can do.”