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Viewpoint: Good government supports, promotes healthy communities

As I walk our neighborhoods and attend events in the communities I represent, I'm struck by how vibrant our community life is during this time of year.

In cul-de-sacs and driveways I encounter moms and dads chatting with neighbors while watching their youngest children play after dinner. I see adult groups -- extended family gatherings, couples together or a band of women friends -- enjoying a picnic area, or out walking or biking one of our many trails.

I pass our local parks, bustling with people participating in one of our many summer sports leagues. It's the slow down time of year -- time to take family vacations, do a little camping and stretch our play into "daylightful" evenings.

We enjoy our children in ways not possible during the busy school year and we reconnect with our neighbors after the long winter hibernation. We take advantage of the abundant and beautiful outdoor amenities in our communities and throughout the St. Croix Valley and state.

This is also the time of year that national holidays and community events remind us of our history, our cultural traditions, those who have gone before us and sacrificed to make this all possible and those who are bravely protecting us now.

We acknowledge our veterans, attend Memorial Day services, and watch Fourth of July parades and fireworks. We hold wonderful community celebrations like Woodbury Days.

All of these remind us of the many ways that we are tied together, and that we rely on each other to help make a good life for ourselves and our families.

On these walks through neighborhoods I also have time to reflect on my role as your state representative and the role of state government in general in best supporting the efforts of individuals and families to create a good life for themselves and future generations.

One important function of government is to provide for basic infrastructure -- a transportation system that supports our families and businesses in doing what they need to do in a timely and safe manner.

Another is to protect and sustain our shared earth environment -- our natural resources, our drinking water, the air we breathe. Another is to provide a backstop for our most vulnerable -- the elderly, the disabled, or hard working Minnesotans who have temporarily fallen on tough times due to a family, health or economic crisis. Another is to provide for public health and safety.

Minnesota has a legacy of protecting public health that is second to none, as recently evidenced in the tracking of the source of a salmonella outbreak that made thousands across the nation seriously ill.

Federal and other state health agencies, after working for weeks, could not find the source and chose to ban tomatoes. Then, after Minnesotans ate at a restaurant and became sick, a Minnesota team of health officials, with the assistance of Public Health grad students at the UMN, tracked down the real source -- jalapenos.

They used a more efficient system, which included a better reporting system, extensive interviews and state-of-the-art DNA testing.

While some might assert that spending taxpayer money on such efforts is a function ripe for downsizing or elimination when the state experiences budget shortfalls, I say it is essential to protecting our citizen's health and to building our farm-to-fork food safety network.

I vote to sustain efforts that protect the health and well being of our families, whether that is in the realm of protecting our ground water -- as I did extensive work on during this past session to benefit our local communities -- or ensuring food safety and basic healthcare for children.

Good government supports and promotes healthy communities, and that builds a stronger Minnesota.

Rep. Bunn (District 56A) will chair the East Metro PFC Pollution Oversight Working Group meeting of the Health and Human Services Policy Committee at Woodbury City Hall, 11 a.m. to 1 pm, on Aug. 14. She will be joined by other area legislators to hear updates from the Department of Health and the Pollution Control Agency on all aspects of east metro activities having to do with PFC pollution, testing and clean-up. The public is invited to attend.

For more information, call Bunn at (651) 296-4244.