The cold January 27 morning began with a panel discussion by three members of the Minnesota state legislature. Rep Patty Acomb, Rep Cheryl Youakim, and Rep Laurie Pryor gathered to help us understand the climate in our legislature, as it relates to both state and national priorities, and to help St. Lukers think about ways we might affect change. The Representatives described our opportunity (and challenge) here in Minnesota, with the only divided state legislature in the country (a Republican Senate and a Democratic House). Minnesota is a mirror of the United States Congress, and it is our chance to demonstrate how people can work together.
While the 3 leaders recognize the divisions and partisan politics that plague us both nationally and at the state and local levels, they point to signs of hope.
People are showing up
There were more voters at the polls in November than ever before
Crowds like the one today at St. Luke (as well as the work St. Luke is doing) indicate higher levels of involvement on a variety of fronts
The Minnesota House of Representatives has 35 new members and begins to look a lot more like the population of Minnesota.
There are more women representatives than ever (nearly 50/50)
15 representatives are people of color
Gender roles, and other constraining stereotypes are softening.
Younger folks, in the general public as well as in the legislature, seem less driven by the stereotypes of men as arrogant and women as more willing to compromise
House Speaker Melissa Hortman is committed to everyone having equal abilities to caucus and to provide leadership on issues they are passionate about.
Efforts among legislators to talk, one to one, to welcome and get to know each other’s personalities, go a long way toward compassionate, positive change.