Lawmakers convene in St. Paul today to begin what will be the last session for District 19A House Representative Clark Johnson (D-North Mankato) who announced earlier this year that he will not seek re-election.

For Johnson, he says there is still a lot on the table and lawmakers have to get to it right away.

Rep. Clark Johnson

“This is a very short session and we’ve actually got quite a bit of work to do. Now, the legislature can move at a fast pace, so this is doable. But we’re gonna have to be diligent about getting our job done.”

Next year will feature a large list of new faces in St. Paul as Johnson and ten other house members have indicated they will not seek re-election to the Legislature in 2018. That list doesn’t include the vacancies left by Tony Cornish (R-Vernon Center) and Dan Schoen (D-St. Paul Park) who resigned last year following allegations of sexual harassment.

“One of the very first things we will address is sexual harassment, certainly internally. I though it was very wise that on Wednesday we’re going for training and we need it. I think it’s the kind of thing that professionals in all aspects, all workplaces, really need to look at and seriously learn about because it just can’t be tolerated.”

With items including the bio-diesel mandate, tax conformity, water quality and public employee contracts on the docket, one of the most important items for Johnson will be addressing the Minnesota Care buy-in.

“We need to get a waiver from the federal government, we need to act on this right away and early in the session. So we can work that process. We need to work with the federal government on that. But, I’m encouraged by efforts they have to look at new ways to do things. Minnesota’s in a nice spot here and we can offer something Minnesotans know, Minnesota Care, to everybody on that individual market. I think we absolutely need to move forward on that.”

He adds that another focus will be making the case to increase wages for home health care workers.

“It needs to be done, it’s an industry that’s kind of collapsing in some degree. We can’t have that collapse. If you need that care, you need somebody coming in and ideally you have some continuity in your care. Everybody understands that. These are our family members, these are our neighbors. We’ve gotta do far better on that very important issue.”

This year’s session runs through May 21.