District 44B candidates address hot topics during legislative forum
September 22, 2018 Link to story
Candidates for the open District 44B House of Representatives seat Patty Acomb (DFL-Minnetonka) and Gary Porter (R-Plymouth) participated in a candidate forum Sept. 20 at the Plymouth City Hall, just in time for absentee voting to open the next day.
District 44B represents southwest Plymouth, Minnetonka and the community of Woodland.
The forum, which was conducted by the League of Women Voters Plymouth Wayzata Area, covered a range of topics from special education, bipartisanship and health care. Patty Robles was the moderator.
The following are among the candidates’ responses, which have been edited for space and clarity.
The primary funding source for the Health Care Access Fund, which pays for programs such as MinnesotaCare and medical assistance, is a 2-percent provider tax on health care providers and is set to expire in 2019.
Do you support a long-term, sustainable funding source for the Health Care Access Fund, whether that be extending the provider tax or replacing it with a new funding source?
Acomb said she believes there needs to be long-term, sustainable funding streams for all health care needs and would support extending the provider tax.
Porter agreed with extending the provider tax and making sure it is permanent “so that people who are in need know that the health care is going to be there when they need it,” he said.
With health care insurance premiums being “out of reach for many Minnesotans,” the candidates were asked what their plans would be to bring the plans to the public so they have one that is “at least as good as that offered to the legislature?”
Porter suggested starting by “taking a look at the mandates” in health care, many of which were brought in by private interest groups, “and they’re not necessary,” he said.
He would like to more cafeteria plans provided, which meet individual health care needs, rather than needs for all. He gave the example of a senior citizen not needing pregnancy coverage.
Acomb, a breast cancer survivor, “I know firsthand how important it is to have good, quality and affordable health care,” she said. Expanding and opening MinnesotaCare as an alternative for others. “We need to do better,” Acomb said, adding “I believe [health care] is a right that we all deserve.”
Candidates were asked what measures they favor to combat climate change and what would they propose that would have an impact.
With a background in education and environmental work, Acomb said she would support measures to reduce dependency on fossil fuels and supports renewable energy sources, such as solar energy.
Porter agreed that renewable fuels are “extremely important.” He also would like to see more science behind the projects to ensure they are making a positive impact in combating the issue. “We have got to make sure what we are doing is really going to get the job done,” he said, noting he didn’t support the Paris agreement.
With a majority of Minnesotans supporting stronger gun laws, the candidates were asked where they stand on gun control.
Porter said it is a matter of finding what will work because he doesn’t think universal background checks will work and something that would have bipartisan support. “What I’ve seen presented so far, I would oppose,” he said.
Acomb said gun violence prevention is one of the main reasons she decided to run for this seat.
“We absolutely need universal background checks,” she said. “And we need to give law enforcement the authority to remove guns from the people that they think are a danger to themselves or others.”
She also noted the need to provide more mental health services in the community.
What do you think is the biggest concern facing public schools in your district and what are your thoughts on public money being partially used to fund private schools?
Porter said the district is “extremely lucky” to have a good educational system, “but it’s always been my belief that we need to provide the funding in the classroom to pay our teachers what they deserve,” he said. “We need the economic soldiers to man our industries and we need the leadership that will come out of the next generation, and without good teachers, that’s not going to happen,” he said.
Acomb said she is a firm believer of the public education funding, and the problem has been that school funding has not kept up with inflation, noting the majority of schools are dependent on levies.
Special education funding, closing the achievement gap, making schools safer and providing more mental health resources are also important, she said.