Friday, June 29, 2007

$3/day - MN Foodstamp Challenge Days 4&5

To raise attention about hunger across Minnesota and America, I am participating in the Minnesota Food Stamp Challenge. The Minnesota Legal Services Advocacy Project and other partners have a great website that's worth checking out: http://mnfoodstampch...

My experience was part of a story on the   KMSP News and was included in Minnesota Public Radio's Mid Morning-Show yesterday (around 25-28 mins into the program). also posted about a few of us taking the challenge.

You can read my first 3 days here:

$3/day - Foodstamp Challenge Day 1, and

$3/day - Foodstamp Challenge Days 2&3

Some repeated but needed basic resources about the Food Stamp service:

The USDA has a solid, basic fact sheet about current Food Stamp eligibility here: Fact Sheet on Resources, Income and Benefits, and Ten Steps to Fill Your Grocery Bag

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has a lot of State-by-State Information.

The U.S. Food Policy Blog has a good post about Orgeon Governor Ted Kulongoski's experience on the challenge, too.

Now, to Days 4 and 5:

At this point, it seems hard to remember even a few hours before, let alone a day or two ago. I can very much understand why undernourishment leads to underperformance in school and on the job.

I started yesterday and today with the same big breakfast as Wednesday: 2 tortillas, 3 scrambled eggs (no milk, of course), and some beans or rice. I think I could settle into this breakfast 3 or 4 days a week easily, although some salsa, meat, or other addition would get tempting (or a tasty treat!) after a while.

Thursday, I had to leave my morning commitment early enough not only to drive back to a 12:30 meeting, but also to stop at home and cook up a double-pack of Ramen noodles. It took about 13 or 14 more minutes, although I am sure I could have microwaved it at the meeting location, too. I slopped the noodles and canned corn into a portable container and brought it to the meeting, where of course, sitting on the table, were 3 full plates with a heaping pile of cheese, crackers and fruit.

Because of the quick sugar in the noodles, and the sodium, I was fine for about 1.5 hours, but near the end of the meeting, I started thinking longingly about those grapes. I also realized that I hadn't had any real dairy all week. Those cheese curds would sure have been good, but I tried to stick to my guns.

After the meeting, it was clear that the leftovers would have been left for anyone to take, I did grab two cheese sticks, 6 small chocolate chip cookies, and 2 tiny bunches of grapes. My head said - "Save the cheese for breakfast, on those eggs. Leave a few cookies for after dinner."

I was shocked at my hunger once I unleashed myself on those cookies. I thought about saving a few only after the last one was in my mouth. It literally took 2 minutes. The string cheese was gone, too. And the grapes - a bit dried up, a bit sour - as they say in New Joisey - fahgettaboutit. All gone.

Dinner was that tuna, pasta and peas/corn I dreamed about earlier. My fiancee had a fudgesicle after her dinner, and I saw a small little bit on the stick before she threw it away. I grabbed it and licked off the last few globs. Yummmm. But those cookies from earlier would've been great, too.

I vascillate between desparation and a confidence that I could do this. After my 1/4-lb burger for dinner, with peas and some rice, my "carry-overs" would be:

almost a full pound of rice

almost a full pound of black beans

2 tortillas

1/2 jar of pasta sauce

2 or 3 ozs of spaghetti

1 smack ramen packet (unless that's a late night snack)

With almost 3 dollars worth of food assets for the next days ahead, I'd likely be sure to splurge on a gallon of milk. I'd get some cheap chicken, rather than ground beef. I'd also try some bread instead of tortillas, or even take the leap and see if I could get flour, yeast, and some honey to make 2 or 3 loaves of bread over the weekend. Rice and beans would stay a staple, as would my eggs, but I might make my own pasta (quick and easy, really) and I might grab that 1.29 head of lettuce I longed for all week.

In terms of strategy, I'd also hard-boil some eggs and take one or two along for a daytime snack. I'd also see if I could find some reliable sources of free food - like grocery-store samples, and maybe even some dumpster-diving.

One of the things that I've learned is how important relationships are, and how close one lives to real trouble. That condiment bar from which I snuck the mayo and mustard for my tuna pasta - what if the owner or manager said, "I can't let you steal all the time. You need to pay for that."

Or if the coffee shop I normally frequent wouldn't let me grab a glass of tapwater so I could read the paper for free, and sit in a comfortable spot with friends - what if the owners said, "Sorry, Bub - pay up"?

And early in the week, as I had a very busy schedule and had to crash in the Cities (45 miles from home) due to one late meeting and an early meeting the next morning, I had to bring several meals with me, and store them in a shared refrigerator. What if all those meals got stolen? What if just one meal got stolen? I did think about that, and stashed them in a less-visible spot. I also pledged that I would let myself just go hungry. Tough luck, I guess.

I have dinner tonight, then it's back to the luxury of a $10 daily food budget (on average). I love eating, and I love cookie, and it sure will be nice to go out for brunch and grab a meal out. But I am really chewing on some ideas about the lessons I am learning, and opportunities for policy changes that might improve opportunities for Food Stamp Recipients.

Over the next month, I'll be connecting with our local food shelf. I'll be sitting down with our county human services folks and connect with some neighbors who rely on food stamps to make ends meet. I'll sit down with a local school superintendent to talk about the free and reduced lunch programs, and their successes and challenges.

In all honesty, I am so hungry right now that I want to take time to carefully consider some of the lessons I've learned and the next steps.

Most of all, I am learning that going hungry - whether it means no food, little food, or just poorly-nourishing food - can severely limit one's quality of life, and daily quality of work.

The main question I have is: How can we best dramatically reduce hunger in Minnesota, and in America? Your thoughts?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

$3/day: MN Foodstamp Challenge Days 2&3

Some more background information:

The USDA has a solid, basic fact sheet about current Food Stamp eligibility here: Fact Sheet on Resources, Income and Benefits, and Ten Steps to Fill Your Grocery Bag

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has a lot of State-by-State Information.

The U.S. Food Policy Blog has a good post about Orgeon Governor Ted Kulongoski's experience on the challenge, too.

Now, to Day 2 and the beginning of Day 3....

I was up very late on Day 1, working on legislative and constituent stuff. I inculded my first day's diary in an email update to my constituents, and received some very interesting personal stories. I may share a few of them later, with their permission. Regardless, it was to bed @ 2, and up @ 6:30.

My strategy has centered around a big breakfast, with frozen hash browns, 2 or 3 eggs, and a tortilla. I figured that a big first meal goes a long way.

You can imagine how disappointed I was to hear that our home-laid eggs had all been given away the day before (how's that for lack of planning!). There went that idea... The hens don't lay until late morning, so the I had to make due with hash browns mixed with rice and beans. It was halfway satisfying, but fairly light compared to the possibility of eggs.

I was moderately hungry late in the morning, but nothing out of the ordinary. The lack of sleep was tougher to navigate without full nourishment, but still manageable. I had my first helping of the hamburger helper meal for lunch, even though I was at a meeting where pizza, soda, etc... were all available. The burger and pasta was filling and somehow satisfying, so I didn't really feel lacking.

One little item surprises me. Throughout the day I think about grabbing a soda, a cup of coffee, a cookie or four, and even a fourth meal. This week, it's eat, and work.

At 5:30 I did start to get seriously hungry. The kind of halfway-vacant-stare, can't-concentrate, want-to-go-to-sleep kind of hungry. If I had been at home, I could have slopped together a 14-cent pack of ramen noodles, but that was no option. The dinner of left-over pasta, sauce, peas and corn was actually quite tasty and satisfying, and felt like a normal meal.

I did find a gold mine late in the day. I had 90 minutes to kill in Saint Paul between meetings. Finding some reading on which I needed to catch up, I hopped over to a frequent haunt. Not only did I discover punch and desert for the taking (left over from some meeting no doubt - I'd seen this motherlode before) but even better... Small packets of mayo, mustard, jelly, jam (!), and salt and pepper. Hot dang - tuna salad here I come!

On the other end of the spectrum, I had a smack-ramen snack at about 10:45. The last ramen I'd eaten was probably 4 or 5 years ago. Nostalgic, but not terribly satisfying, especially after that chocolate desert I snagged.

I slept okay, but not long enough. I had an unusual 7 a.m. meeting at the Capitol. Normally I might grab breakfast - a muffin, bagel, or the like - after a meeting like this, but that's clearly not gonna happen this week. So I had to rise early enough to scramble some eggs and throw in some beans on a tortilla. It was very tasty, actually, and filling.

The rest of the morning was a 'normal' morning, save for feeling a real need for some orange juice or something fresh. By lunchtime, though, that light-headed-hunger came back a bit. I imagine that lots of people experience this all the time. Watching other people eat, part of me is jealous, though there's such a novelty about doing the Challenge that it's as cool as it is somewhat difficult. Without the safety of knowing that come Saturday I can eat all the Chipotle burritos I'd like (more rice and beans, anyone?), I am sure I'd feel a little bit more of what it's like to do this every day, every week, for a lifetime.

Lunch brought me further back to earth. Two tortillas with rice and beans. I did score some hot sauce from the condiment counter, and it really helped jazz it up. but the starch.... oh the starch.

Over lunch I did an interview with a local tv station, KMSP, about the experience. It should run at 5 pm today. I'll try to let you know if it's available online.

I feel more and more like I am just going through the day, rather than being as engaged as I feel normally. I can only imagine how difficult it might be for a grade-school student to go hungry and try to soak up any information at all. Or a mother working to pay the rent and clothes, and deciding to make sure the kids get adequate milk and meat - and having to go without some needs herself.

Tonight, I am helping my fiancee with a couple of projects around her house. I wonder if I will be able to work as carefully as when I am better fed.

No other profound thoughts today. A teacher did send me this note, in response to my email update from Day 1:
good for you for at least trying to feel what some of my kids
feel on a regular basis. i remember last year when i had a kid who
said she did not have any food because her mom's check did not come
in for a few days. she said they didn't eat from friday until sunday
night. it is so hard to imagine that when one has so many
opportunities and options.

$3/day: MN Foodstamp Challenge Day 1

Two weeks ago I received this email:

Representative Kalin,

Would you be willing to participate in a statewide food stamp challenge?

From June 25-29, the Minnesota Partners to End Hunger are inviting all Minnesotans to eat on an average $3 per day food stamp budget (to raise awareness about food stamp funding in the federal Farm Bill).

If you would be interested in participating for a few days or even the full five days, we'd love to highlight your experiences on our website or with the media. Here's the site:


Intriguing? Challenging? Set your mind a-whir? It sure did for me. I could re-post all the linky's and such from the blogspot site, but it's so good, I suggest you mosey on over there and get it first-hand.

My first day experience:

Day 1 snuck up on me. Last weekend was filled with a lot of family time and wedding prep. Some of my fiancee's family came in town, as did my cousin, for a shower - thus I didn't have much time to prepare for today.

When I first received the invitation to participate, I set to my mind to figuring out just how one could ever try to make it on 3 bucks a day. Natural foods or fresh produce are likely out of the question, save for homegrown items. I am thankful for home-laid eggs that's for sure!

$3 a day is tough enough on a family with regular meal times. It looks to be even tougher on someone who spends a lot of time on the go, or on the road.

I've learned that others taking the challenge may have received some ground rules or rules of thumb. I did not, so I made up my own based on common sense and some basic assumptions. All of my self-imposed ground rules are based on the notion that were I on food stamps I'd be pretty innovative in making it work. Please feel free to disagree...

I decided to grab any coffee, cookies, or other snack food when offered - but only once a day, as being a legislator probably offers more opportunity than the lay person. I also said that homegrown foods were 'off budget' except for the cost of raising the food. This year that's limited to eggs, as I have no garden right now and no venison in the freezer. I decided to use any coupon or other savings option, within reason as well. I also will count coffee expenses, though I may wish I traded a pound of ground beef for the caffeine headache come Thursday.

So today, I delayed breakfast until it was too late. I ended up using a caribou coffee $4 gift card I got at a dinner last night to get a cup of coffee, for no cash out of pocket. Thankfully caffeine suppresses hunger a bit, as that was my whole morning intake.

Noontime was spent at a Transportation speech by my Congressman Jim Oberstar. I grabbed coffee along with a chocolate chip cookie, a peanut butter cookie and an oatmeal cookie. Yes, I chose the cookie varities strategically but I did wait until it was obvious no one else was going to eat any more of them.. Again, no cash required. $15 still left for the week.

After an open house at the new County Human Services building - where I skipped the snacks - I finally got really hungry. On my way to an evening meeting, I stopped at McDonalds to take advantage of the cheapest protein I could grab quickly : a double cheeseburger for the low low price of $1.07. It is surprisingly satisfying, but that may be due to the 44 oz ice water I got for free.

At the evening meeting, dinner was served, and it sure did smell good. But the $15 would blow my whole budget for the week. A staff member at the meeting gave me some advice based on her experience living off food stamps years ago. It all hit home for me when she mentioned the guilt of having to look into the pleading eyes of her young kids at the dinner table.

State Senator Tony Lourey was also at the meeting and is also taking the food stamp challenge. We shared strategies and hot bargains at the store. He's got a family of five, so our experience is very different. I was curious about my grocery shopping experience to come later.

I shopped at the Cub Foods in Cambridge, on my way home. Unfortunately, I was quite hungry at this point - not a good idea with a very limited budget. At first, I had an easy time putting together a full basket: Romaine lettuce @ 1.29, white bread @ 1.69, rice @ 1.13 and beans @ .97, tortillas @ .99... Protein. Carbs. Greens. Good to go for several meals, at just over 6 bucks... Not bad.

I added 21 oz. of spaghetti noodles for 1.00, and generic sauce for 1.59. Some peas and corn in a can for a total of .88 and I had a heavy basket for about 10 bucks. On to some meat-y protein. I grabbed two cans of tuna for 98 cents and a pound of ground beef for 2.50 (a splurge, I know, but I need real meat during these 5 days).

Then, to some hamburger helper. It had to be generic, but almost all the boxes required about a half a cup of milk. I am making a bad choice, I know, but I am forgoing fresh dairy these five days. I think I could have found room for milk, but it's no wonder that a lot of America is in a dairy deficit in their diet. Without milk, I chose the hamburger helper that only requires water. Plus, I saved 49 cents on the box - just 1 dollar.

A decent 5-day basket of food for about 13 or 14 bucks. So I thought long and hard about the things I'd like to have: Milk. Cheese. Yogurt. All too expensive. But the best way to make the day's diet go further is a big breakfast. With a plethora of rice, beans and eggs, I could make a great morning meal. Add a tortilla and I'm almost there. Even on an unlimited budget, my guilty pleasure is hash brown potatoes in the morning. I grabbed a big bag for 1.50.

The last thought was a snack. I've always loved smack-ramen for a snack. Two of the packs even make a halfway decent meal. 5 of them, for 70 cents.

I got to the register, and found myself about 65 cents over budget. I handed back the fresh lettuce. I now regret it. The fresh lettuce would go so much farther for taste and crispness than would the canned corn and peas. Bad move.

I also could have gotten rice and beans at the bulk price and only gotten what I needed for the 5 days. I probably could have snagged a quart of milk at this price. Instead, I am thinking about snagging 5 or 6 of those free 1/2 and 1/2 fresh creamers and mixing it without an equal amount of water in a bottle, and wham - instant milk with real dairy.

Dinner was pasta, sauce, corn and peas. I am a little hungry but not bad. I now have another meal of the same ready to go in the fridge. I also have two meals of the hamburger helper with ground beef in the fridge, and a fresh pot of both rice and beans. For the helper, I actually reserved a quarter of a pound or so of beef for a surprise burger late in the week.

I am definitely looking forward to my huevos rancheros breakfast with hash browns, without the cheese of course.

Day 1...
Breakfast: 0.
Lunch: 1.07.
Dinner: 0.93.
(33 cents of pasta, 40 cents of sauce, 20 cents of peas and corn)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

An interesting survey... my response

Late this session, I received what was termed a "confidential survey" about my first legislative session, from someone I do not know. I did check out the source and a few references, and while I trust the confidentiality of the survey, I did not agree with the general premise of many of the questions. I thought about it a great deal, and finally decided to send this reply. The specific questions are below my reply.


I have given your survey a great deal of thought since receiving it in the late days of session. I do have some responses to the issues you've raised, but I decline to share them in this format right now.

Political rhetoric has unfortunately declined below even the lowest common denominator. Every statement - whether public, semi-public, or 'confidential' - today become fodder for the nastiest of attack campaign literature, or just political attacks outside of campaign cycles.

I developed collegial working relationships with many of my Republican colleagues during my first session. The vast majority of them are engaged in what I would call true public service; they suffer the slings and arrows of public office because they believe, as I do, that we can work together to craft forward-looking solutions that might actually improve the quality of life here in Minnesota. In different areas, our pholosophies about the means to the ends may diverge, but we do agree on the end goal.

Yet, I observed that there are some extremely caustic members of the Republican House that are not intent on doing good work for the people of Minnesota, but rather on obstructing the process of legislating for the common good. There is always a degree of politics in politics (imagine that!) but I do not believe that the legislature has ever seen such a concerted effort to do nothing but filibuster, obstruct, delay and deny legislative progress solely for the sake of political gain, and dare I say, individual ego. Long-time Capitol observers, journalists and lobbyists shared with me their own confirmation of the lack of good faith by a handful of angry legislators, acting out simply for the sake of acting out.

Turf wars are to be expected, within reason. Passionate debate on the House Floor, in the media, and in committee is to be expected, within reason. And irreconcilable differences are to be expected in a few areas, within reason.

But until there is a broadscale return to the ethic of decency, decorum and basic respect for individuals with different perspectives, I believe it best to stay silent with respect to the specific questions asked.

Any issues I have with individual members, be they my first-term classmates or party leadership, I choose to share only with them. My thoughts about specific issues can be found very easily in my weekly columns to my local newspapers, as well as in any of a number of other online or printed sources.

I wish you the best of luck in your work, and I do not wish to make your task more difficult.

My best,

Here is the email I received initially:

This is a follow up e-mail regarding a brief survey I am conducting for the Center for the Study XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX.

This short survey is being distributed to 32 DFL Representatives, each of whom was elected in House districts carried by Governor Pawlenty last November. A similar survey is also being distributed to a few dozen GOP Representatives. We are very interested in your views on the challenges you face of being a DFL Representative in a moderate to right-leaning House district.

- - - -
- - - -

Center for the Study XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX Questionnaire

1. How concerned are you that the House DFL agenda in this session is too liberal for your district: very concerned, somewhat concerned, only a little concerned, or not at all concerned?

2. During the current session, have you ever felt you were more in step with the GOP minority than with your DFL majority and leadership? If yes – with what bill?

3. What is the most important vote you have cast this session and why?

4. How concerned are you that the House will be unable to override Governor Pawlenty's veto on the transportation bill with the nickel per gallon gas tax increase: very concerned, somewhat concerned, only a little concerned, or not at all concerned?

5. What GOP legislator has impressed you the most this session and why?

6. At the beginning of the session, there was concern that the new DFL leadership in the House and Senate would be too liberal. At this point in the session, do you think the DFL leadership has been too liberal, not liberal enough, or about right?

7. Do you approve or disapprove of the job the DFL leadership has done so far?

Lastly, I have two questions about Election 2008 …

8. If Al Franken is the DFL nominee for U.S. Senate, do you think his presence on the November 2008 ballot will be asset to other DFL candidates running in your district, a liability to other DFL candidates running in your district, or will it make no difference?

9. If Hillary Clinton is the DFL nominee for President, do you think her presence on the November 2008 ballot will be asset to other DFL candidates running in your district, a liability to other DFL candidates running in your district, or will it make no difference?

Thank you very much for participating in our survey.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Coming back from the Quiet

It's been too long since I've made time to post. Over the next weeks, I'll begin a series of posts about energy efficiency and energy conservation.

This week, it was my honor to visit with Ed Mazria, founder of Mazria, Inc. Architecture Planning Conservation in Santa Fe. He was in town to speak to the University of Minnesota's College of Design about his latest project, Architecture 2030.

Ed wrote the Passive Solar Energy Book in 1979, for years the bible for solar-sensitive design. He then disappeared from the broader architecture world, hunkered down in New Mexico building millions of square feet of energy-efficient architecture.

Mazria reappeared on the scene with his October 2003 cover piece Turning Down the Global Thermostat. For nearly four years, he's staunchly advocated for sustainable design requirements in architecture curricula all over the U.S.

Monday, Mazria spoke to about 400 students, faculty and advocates at the U of M. That same afternoon, I was invited to a smaller workshop with master's students, faculty, the Dean of the College of Design, and leaders in the field, to propose new action steps in education, practice, research and policy to push energy efficiency in Minnesota, especially in Green Building.

I will write more about this in coming weeks. Thanks for your continued interest in patience.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

From the Floor II: the Bonding Bill

Another day, another floor session. This time it's Tuesday evening, and the bill is the Capital Investment bill. Generally, the odd-numbered year's bonding bill is a bit slimmer than the even-numbered year's. This is again the case this year.

But there is good news for Chisago County. $500,000 will be bonded for the Rush Line commuter transit corridor infrastructure along highway 35 and highway 61.

The debate is just beginning, but I will be sure to add an update or two or three before the night is done.

UPDATE: Only four amendments, all of which were voted down with a wide majority. We're now on third reading.

UPDATE II: The bill passed 84-45, after a fairly brief discussion. Perhaps we're on the path to somewhat quicker sessions...?

Regardless, the next step of investment in the Rush Line is one evening closer to reality.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

the Transportation Bill on the House Floor

We are on the House Floor today in an unusual Saturday session. We are taking up the Transportation Finance bill, one that I've worked very hard on this session as a member of the Transportation Committee. I am unfortunately missing one of my favorite events of the year - the Friends of Wild River State Park annual maple syrup and pancake breakfast (with freshly-boiled syrup!). But this Transportation Bill will help meet an incredible need facing the people I represent: traffic congestion and unsafe roads.

The bill is also a Jobs bill. My friend, Congressman (and Chair) Jim Oberstar often cites this statistic: 1 lane mile of new road brings 55 new jobs.

I spoke frankly with my MnDOT Area Manager last week. I asked him whether the state can fund the North Branch Bridge at highway 95 without more funding. His straightforward answer was - not before 2009, certainly. Without this bill, North Branch would have to levy $4.2 Million in property tax bonding to build the bridge.

For a long time, the DFL House Caucus has listed its top priorities as "Education, Health Care and Property Tax reform." I've long thought that one critical issue has been missing, and spoke several times directly with the Speaker of the House and the Majority Leader as well. I am satisfied that we're taking the Transportation Finance Bill before all others, because the need is so great across the state.

One last specific note before I share with you a little bit of what's happening on the floor. The 2005 Transportation Bill would have provided $17 million in state funding just to our Chisago County county-state-aid roads. Because the bill did not become law - and because we then had the worst county roads in a MnDOT study - the county was forced to bond $14 Million in property taxes to make up for the lost revenue.

- - - -

We're now about 30 minutes into the floor action on the bill. Representative Holberg offered an amendment that would violate our balanced budget principles over the next two years - the budget "tails" as they are called around here. I voted no.

As Vice-Chair of Public Safety, I've worked closely with the Republican Lead, Rep. Paul Kohls. I'd now call him a friend. His amendment to strip out the major funding of the bill just failed - and I voted no on this one as well.

Many of these amendments were discussed through the three-month committee process this year. We worked diligently in a bi-partisan manner to write the bill, which passed with only 3 nay votes in Committee.

- - - -

Rep. Sviggum is offering an amendment that would micromanage the transit system. My professional training is, of course, in architecture and planning. I know that we need to trust professionals to design a system that works well - and that we need to fund the system to reach the critical mass so that transit is available to areas where there is real need and desire for it - like Chisago County. My largest city is 29.5 miles away from the closest connection to the metro transit system, though we are part of the metro MnDOT district and pay for the roads the busses ride along. I will vote no on the Sviggum amendment.

Rep. Garofalo just offered an amendment to prohibit toll roads in Minnesota. While I generally agree with the principle, there are a few worthy areas where a toll road may make sense. The proposed major freeway-style bridge in Stillwater would cost $494 Million - primarily to move Wisconsin residents to their Minnesota jobs. This immense project will benefit Wisconsiners mostly, and a toll charge will help the users actually pay for the bridge project. I voted no on the Garofalo amendment for this reason.

- - - -

After I spoke urging a "green" vote, the Republican lead on our committee, Doug Magnus, spoke about the bill as well. He pointed out that there are a lot of good elements in the bill, even though he'll vote against it.

Now, finally, Transportation Chair Bernie Lieder is wrapping up the debate, sharing his wisdom as one of the true legends in the Minnesota House. He is also refuting some of the exagerations previously stated about the funding part of the bill. I've especially enjoyed getting to know Bernie, and learning at his feet. He's sharp, fair, and even-keeled.

The bill just passed 83-46.

Thanks for reading this post. Please do let me know if you enjoyed the format and the discussion. If you'd also prefer shorter updates more frequently, please do let me know as well. As always, your comments, questions, ideas and input are encouraged. Thanks for your attention. Enjoy the spring weather!