Dear Neighbors,


I love the late summer! ... the State Fair, sneaking in a last weekend at the lake with the family before Labor Day, and getting ready for the start of another school year. Everyone's gardens are in full bloom, and the veggies keep rolling in! ... (from your own garden, or your neighbor's garden, or the Farmer's Market, or the bag of zucchini left anonymously on your doorstep...) Enjoying the fruits of our labor is an important part of a satisfying life, whether from the garden or our family or our workplace.

August 1st marks the official enactment of many laws established in the last legislative session, including the new minimum wage. This long-needed reform will help many workers meet the obligations of their family budgets and recognizes their labor with a wage that better reflects their effort. It was a modest increase, but when a family's budget is small, every change can make a big difference.

The Tan-Free Teens law also took effect on August 1st. I was so grateful to be a part of the Miles for Melanoma event on August 2nd. So may people came out to run or walk for family members or friends whose lives have been changed by this terrible cancer. Lives will be saved by this law.

I am spending most every day (and evening) out visiting neighborhoods, speaking with as many residents of Senate District 53A as I can. I need to hear what your issues and concerns are for the future of Minnesota. As I've been knocking on doors, I hear that education is top on nearly everyone's list. Neighbors tell me they want to invest in education at all levels: from early childhood, through post-secondary, and beyond. The ethic of life-long learning resonates with us all. I also hear concerns about our infrastructure; neighbors tell me that we need to adequately invest in - and develop sustainable funding for - our roads, bridges, and public transportation. I also hear that health policy considerations continue to be a high priority. We must develop a culture that thinks through the health impacts of all policy decisions. And we donít have to wait for the 2015 session to start before proposing solutions. I am proud to be working with Rep. Erin Murphy on the CHEER bill (http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/members/pressrelease.asp?pressid=8799&party=1&memid=15423), which will protect Minnesota women's rights to make their own health care decisions.

I appreciate you taking the time to share your priorities with me when I come to your door, and I look forward to working with you in the coming months.

Enjoy these last lingering days of summer!

Sincerely,

Representative JoAnn Ward
Representing Minnesota District 53A (Landfall, eastern Maplewood, southern Oakdale, and western Woodbury)