Monday morning, bright and early, our legislators—Senator Gary Dahms and Representative Paul Torkelson—started their “town hall” tour around the district at the Sleepy Eye Event Center. For many years the town hall meetings in Sleepy Eye would draw a nice room full of people with various issues to discuss (or, complain about). Some years the room was full of farmers—especially when the topic of buffer strips, and to a lesser degree, ditch mowing, was before the legislature.
Last spring, early in the session, a fairly small group attended the town hall meeting in Sleepy Eye. Monday, the group was even smaller. If it hadn’t been for the host organization, Bridging Brown County, and the press (me), there would have been only three people in attendance to listen and ask questions. And, there was no complaining.
I joked a bit with Senator Dahms and Representative Torkelson that they must have done a good job, seeing as not many came to complain. They were feeling the same. I don’t know what kind of turn out they received in the other communities they visited throughout the day on Monday.
Senator Dahms mentioned that there has been criticism that the final budget was put together by three people (the governor and two top leaders) behind closed doors. He explained that was not actually the case. The Senate/House conference committees did their work and turned to the “big three” only to iron out a few remaining differences.
Both of our legislators mentioned that the compromise that ended the budget discussion was a pretty good conclusion to the session—even if it took a 23 hour special session to dot the Is and cross the Ts. They also figured the lack of attendees at the meeting probably indicated that most citizens are more or less satisfied.
I had to tease my farmer friend, Greg Bartz. He was one of the lonely attendees. Greg usually has plenty to complain about (oops, sorry Greg, I meant explain about) but this time the only question he had was about the cost of insulin.
See, even the farmers are satisfied!