Call for Support

By Matt Butler

The Minnesota Public Interest Research Group (MPIRG) will be organizing a statewide lobby day on Monday, March 1st. This is a very unique opportunity for us Macalester students. This lobby day will be focused on the issues that college students from around the state believe are most important to them. Rather than acting in response to the actions of the legislature, MPIRG with the guidance of students is setting the agenda with issues that they view are important. This year, students will be lobbying on several initiatives. First, MPIRG is lobbying for single payer healthcare. This bill is very important because it would ensure that all Minnesotans would receive healthcare. Considering the stagnation of the federal government on this issue, it is important that Minnesota make process to push the federal government into action.

MPIRG will also be lobbying for Complete Streets, which is a bill that changes the way that Minnesotans think about getting around. Currently, engineers solely focus on the car traffic of the area, but the Complete Streets bill changes that idea. It states that engineers have to think about all the users including bikers and walkers. This is a cost-neutral bill because it does not call for the reconstruction of streets immediately, but ensures that on regular reconstruction that roads will be built better for all users.

Third, MPIRG will be lobbying for Detox Minnesota which replaces toxic cleaning supplies in public buildings with non-toxic alternatives. This is important because these products are detrimental to the health of the janitors using the supplies and the workers and children who are in the building every day. Certain chemicals have been shown to cause cancer and have not been removed from the market. This is simply a public safety issue that needs to be addressed and changed.

This Monday the Macalester Chapter of MPIRG will be heading to the Capitol to lobby on these issues. We will be joined by students from St. Catherine’s, Augsburg, Hamline, University of Minnesota Twin Cities, University of Minnesota-Morris, University of Minnesota-Duluth, and Carleton. All of these students lobbying together shows a powerful image to the legislators that theses issues are important.

We would love to see as many people as possible there. It will be taking place from 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. starting in State Office Building room 300S. There will be trainings about how to meet with your legislators and about how to talk about the issues we are working on. Lunch will be provided.

We realize that there are many more issues out there that we are not lobbying for on Monday, but we would like to hear from you about what issues matter to you to! Every year, MPIRG students from around the state submit ideas to be voted on by students to choose what issues to lobby on each year. Our issues for this year are already set, but coming up is an opportunity for you to submit an idea that you think is important to college students and is something that MPIRG should work on.

This Monday, March 1, is the lobby day for MPIRG, but our work does not stop there. If you are particularly interested in any of these issues or want any information about MPIRG, come to a meeting! We meet Tuesdays at 10:00 p.m. in CC214. Also, if you have questions or are interested in attending the lobby day, please contact us via email at [email protected]

Matt Butler ’12 can be reached at [email protected] He is a co-chair of Macalester MPIRG.