Today, we are running the last of three profiles looking at the men who represent St. Louis Park in the state legislature—Sen. Ron Latz, and Reps. Ryan Winkler and Steve Simon.
The 2012 legislative session kicked off Tuesday. Throughout the session, St. Louis Park Patch will bring you regular updates on what your legislators are working on and where they stand on the big issues at the Capitol.
Here are our previous profiles on and .
District: House District 44A
Elected: 2004; re-elected in 2006, 2008 and 2010
Education: B.A., political science, Tufts University; J.D., University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Home: St. Louis Park
Family: Wife, Leia Simon
Proudest accomplishments in office:
- The False Claims Act: I wrote the law (with Sen. Latz) that provides financial incentives to people who report contractors that knowingly defraud the state (as by over-billing or non-performance of contracts). Based on the experience of other states with similar laws, Minnesota could recover hundreds of millions of dollars from wrongdoers.
- Strengthening consumer protection: I've changed Minnesota law in several places to give consumers and small businesses more tools to pursue scam-artists who perpetrate fraud by telephone, on-line, or in writing.
- Protecting crime victims: I've changed the law so that domestic violence victims can more easily escape their abusers, and to allow the family members of all violent crime victims to get time off from work to attend trial proceedings.
- Improving transportation: I've gotten vital funding for the Southwest Corridor light rail line, and I successfully pushed the Department of Transportation to open its books so that we can all evaluate the reasons for delays on projects such as Highway 100.
- Election integrity: I streamlined our election system, and widened participation for overseas military and educational personnel, by moving the state primary election from September to August. I've also added accountability and campaign finance reform provisions to state law.
- First and foremost, I will focus on job creation and retention. A good start is the capital investment plan that Gov. Mark Dayton has proposed, which would invest in vital public works projects throughout the state.
- I want to help steer our state away from partisan and highly divisive fights. We need collaboration, not endless (and needless) controversy. Last year, legislative leaders unfortunately chose to focus tremendous time and attention on issues such as the proposed anti-marriage amendment to the constitution. That was an entirely unnecessary mistake, which caused bitter feelings that persist to this day. Instead, I'll push for a focus on issues that people care about, like jobs, education, and transportation.
- I want to make sure our schools get fair treatment. Last year, the legislature unwisely borrowed billions of dollars from our students (the highest level of such borrowing in state history)—with an uncertain timetable for repayment. I would like to see our schools paid back as quickly as possible with a fair and stable source of revenue.
- I'll push hard for transportation relief in the form of improvements to Highway 100 and acceleration of the Southwest Corridor light rail transit line. Heavy traffic in our area costs us time and money. The best solution includes a reasonable blend of road improvements and rail expansion.
- I'll continue to be a voice for consumer protection, election integrity, and government reform. I'll be authoring changes to a key whistle-blowing law, and I'll do my best to stop or slow legislation that would strip or weaken existing protections and reforms.