Minnesota Speaker of the House Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) toured local businesses, healthcare facilities and nonprofits accompanied by Faribault representative Brian Daniels.
The purpose of the visit was simple: Obtain a better understanding of the community and the issues it faces.
“The challenges are very different in smaller communities than they are in the metro area, so we have to understand how to represent the entire state,” Daudt said.
In a tour that included the Faribault Woolen Mill, District One Hospital, Faribault Senior Living, and local nonprofit Ruth’s House, the legislators were exposed to the unique footprint of different industries and organizations.
For Daniels, it is an important exercise in maintaining an accurate view of the dynamics at play within the community.
“My main goal is to find out what the needs are and what we can do to facilitate those,” Daniels said. “If you don’t talk to your people every so often, you have no idea what’s going on.”
It is that exact issue that has driven Daudt to spend a couple of days of each week traveling outside the metropolitan area, something he said he urges his fellow lawmakers to do as well.
While the legislature is out of session until 2016, the focus on building and maintaining relationships with the constituent base is foremost on the list of priorities for the area.
“It’s important to keep up relationships with people in the community so that, when we’re in session and it’s a busy time, they know who to call. They know Brian and he knows who’s on the phone,” Daudt said.
One of the meaningful pieces of legislation brought up during the tour was one authored by Daniels, regarding the frequency with which the District One Hospital board had to meet. The legislation, which passed, required less frequent meetings of the hospital board throughout the year.
Amending the language to mandate twice-yearly meetings instead of once a month is an example of legislation Daudt credits with helping the administrative structure of the hospital in its first full year under the Allina Health banner.
A lot of the challenges smaller communities face are related to healthcare, so having a local legislator who is tuned into those issues can save money and increase efficiency, Daudt said.