After 30 years in the Minnesota State Legislature, Sen. Gen Olson (R-Minnetrista) says she is looking forward to her last term. She will chair the Education Committee when lawmakers convene for the session this week.
Olson had some health issues this past year with her heart and her spleen. She said doctors had to remove one of them.
“I picked the spleen,” she said, laughing.
Olson seems to be in good spirits and this session plans to lighten her load and focus only on the things that she knows she can impact. But while she plans to slow down on legislation, she still represents 20 cities in her district.
“That’s almost half of the cities in Hennepin County, and people wonder if that is too much,” Olson said. “There’s a history behind each one and an identity.”
A group of legislators has been traveling the state to get support for the MAGIC Act Minnesota Accountable Government Innovation and Collaberation Act) where they are trying to remove barriers to make shared services easier.
All legislators will get together at an event called “One Minnesota,” hosted at the Capitol a few days after the session begins. This year, the theme is on transforming government and one of the break-out sessions is on this topic.
“They are charged with coming out of the session with actual bills that could facilitate your ability to share services,” said Sen. Terri Bonoff (DFL-Minnetonka)
The state of the economy has been an aid in this initiative, added Olson.
“This has forced people to realize there is not a tree out there that is going to rain money on their needs,” she said.
Olson made the comments during a legislative breakfast in Minnetonka last week.
Olson said some of the cities she represents have no services and contract out for all of them. Lately, Mound and Minnetrista have been talking about merging police departments and perhaps fire departments.
“I was mayor of Minnetrista when we formed the joint powers police department with St. Boni, and one of the councilmen who is still involved said ‘You know, Gen, I think they should really merge, but I think a generation will have to die off before it can happen,’” she said. “When it came to a vote, people were still afraid that poor little St. Boni was going to get swallowed by Minnetrista."