Issues

Affordable Healthcare

Nearly 300,000 Minnesotans don’t have health insurance. When people don’t have healthcare, they typically miss those routine checks that can catch illness before it gets worse or have to use the emergency room for basic health needs. This situation isn’t just inhumane. It is also incredibly expensive for the rest of us. So many of the rest of us are underinsured or work just to pay our premiums. No one should have to choose between basic necessities and taking care of their health.

Our healthcare professionals have been so challenged over the past two years. We can’t forget that healthcare also means taking care of those who care for our health.

As our State Senator, Aric has:

  • Advocated for greater transparency in our healthcare system, requiring drug companies to publicly disclose how much they spend on research and development, advertising, and executive salaries.
  • Voted for a temporary reinsurance program that would lower insurance premiums during our current economic crisis.
  • Authored legislation that would encourage and support people who are getting degrees in nursing and increase reimbursal rates so that people who work in nursing homes and with people with disabilities would get paid a fair wage.  

Support for our Schools

As a teacher for more than 20 years, Aric Putnam knows our schools. He knows that no matter where we live or how much money we have, we all want our kids to have access to a quality education that gives them what they need to succeed in the classroom and in life.

We have some of the best teachers in the state. But our schools are struggling. Our students and staff don’t have the support they need, and that hinders our entire community, not just our schools.

As our State Senator, Aric has fought for our schools, teachers, and students. He’s worked to inspire more people to choose the teaching profession and to support them as they do the work to become qualified. Aric also:

  • Fought to increase grants to fight rising tuition

By securing a good education for all of us, we can build our future for generations to come.

A Safer Minnesota with Thriving Neighborhoods and Communities

Everyone deserves to feel safe at home and in their community. Aric’s grandfather was a police officer, his uncle was a sheriff’s deputy, and three of his cousins are currently cops. Aric understands the challenges our police face and works to reform public safety so it protects everyone, collaborating with communities and our police and improving training for officers so families are safe, no matter where they live or what they look like.

As our State Senator, Aric has:

  • Fought to support the mental health of officers and focus on de-escalation training
  • Worked to increase transparency and accountability with the community.
  • Authored a Hometown Heros assistance program for firefighters

We need to inspire people to accept the challenge of this kind of public service and support them when they do.

Affordable Housing

Sixty percent of the people in St. Cloud live in “economic distress.” That means that more than thirty percent of their income goes to housing. “Distress” is the right word because all it takes is one stretch of bad luck—a health crisis, a lost job—and almost two-thirds of our neighbors could experience homelessness. Worse still, on any given day, three to five percent of our school district’s children experience homelessness. That means that some days, five hundred children in our community are looking for shelter instead of doing homework, just trying to get through today instead of building for tomorrow.

The answer to our affordable housing crisis is complex. We need more options for affordable housing, but the problem goes deeper than the housing supply. We need to reform how we fund and oversee both our housing options and how we help those experiencing homelessness. Right now, a patchwork of dedicated volunteers is stretched thin supplying a temporary remedy to a problem that is continuous and growing in harm.

The answer to our affordable housing crisis is complex. We need more options for affordable housing, but the problem goes deeper than the housing supply. We need to reform how we fund and oversee both our housing options and how we help those experiencing homelessness. Right now, a patchwork of dedicated volunteers is stretched thin supplying a temporary remedy to a problem that is continuous and growing in harm.

As our State Senator, Aric has:

  • Advocated for our community and mediated conflicts between tenants and landlords.
  • Voted for a temporary reinsurance program that would lower insurance premiums during our current economic crisis.
  • Worked for capital investments to increase the supply of affordable housing and incentivize home ownership.

An Economy that Works for Minnesotans

So many of us are suffering with rising prices and a cost of living that just seems to keep getting higher. A lot of these challenges result from forces beyond our control – but even though we didn’t cause the problem, we can try to make it hurt less and keep more money in the pockets of families, seniors, and small businesses.

As our State Senator, Aric has:

  • Supported bills that stabilize our health care costs, lower prescription drug prices, and expand medical assistance for moms
  • Authored a bill that would prohibit price gouging

When we help those who struggle, when we support people who are trying to get by and get better, we all benefit.

Championing Responsible Tax Relief

So many of us are suffering with rising prices and a cost of living that just seems to keep getting higher. A lot of these challenges result from forces beyond our control – but even though we didn’t cause the problem, we can try to make it hurt less and keep more money in the pockets of families, seniors, and small businesses.

As our State Senator, Aric has:

  • Advocated for property tax relief
  • Lobbied to cut the first tier of our income tax

Sustainable Climate Practices

The climate crisis is no longer a problem for tomorrow—it threatens our way of life, and it does so right now. Winter recreation industries suffer, and as fires and hurricanes, intensified by rising temperatures, wreak havoc on other parts of the world, climate refugees flee to areas like Minnesota that are becoming more temperate. No part of the world will be untouched by the climate crisis.

We need a comprehensive solution to this crisis, to protect Minnesota’s precious air, land, and water. It’s not just an issue of energy policy, though that’s a big part of it. While we reduce dependency on fossil fuels and shrink our carbon footprint we need to intentionally pursue dematerialization and decarbonization. We can accomplish some of this with newer, greener technologies, but we must also make better use of the ones we already have. For example, switching to electronic medical records has already significantly decreased the amount of paper we use, and we can and should also incentivize agriculture that sequesters carbon from the atmosphere.

Politicians in the pockets of polluters will try to force a false decision between the environment and the economy. That’s not a true choice. Efficiency and sustainable practices are key to a strong economy and our future. We won’t be fooled, and we won’t wait.

Serve the Veterans who Served Us

Aric is from a military family. He is who he is today because of people who served in the armed forces, including his grandfather, who served as a chaplain in World War Two at the Battle of the Bulge, and his father, a Vietnam veteran. Military service runs deep in his family, but you don’t need to be from a military family to respect veterans and know that their sacrifices should be honored.

As a State Senator, Aric has worked to:

  • Fully fund the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Support programs that help veterans transition from the military to education and promising careers
  • Reduce the cost of hunting, trapping, and fishing licenses for disabled veterans
  • Secure a homestead market value exclusion for disabled veterans so that rising house values don’t force veterans out of their homes
  • Authored a resolution to commit to and expand the VA’s Vet Centers in Minnesota, which provide veterans and their families increased access to mental and physical healthcare, help them manage issues with readjustment after combat, and assist in reducing veteran suicide and homelessness

For too long our legislature has taken half steps to support those who have been all in. It’s time we honored our commitment and truly supported veterans.

End Violence, Trafficking, and Sexual Assault

Everyone struggles, but these days it seems like too often we hear of cruelty and exploitation, even in our community. We are better than that. We must work to not only stop predatory behavior now, but address its root causes and prevent it in the future.

As our Senator, Aric authored bills that:

  • Establish affirmative consent standards in campus sexual assault policies
  • Award grants for emergency housing and shelter for domestic abuse victims and their children
  • Require the disclosure of registered predators to hospice providers
  • Worked with the Stearns County Attorney to increase penalties for human trafficking

Everyone in our community deserves safety and to be treated with dignity, including the most vulnerable.

Hold Government Accountable

Elected officials should be public servants. They need to be reliable and accessible to all their constituents. But public service isn’t passive; it is active. An elected official should be a leader, reach out to the community, and have a vision and the skill and will to communicate it.

It’s not the job of government to solve all our problems—but a healthy democracy can foster vigorous dialogue and discussion. Elected officials must provide leadership and foster connections between elements of a community, stand up for each of us, and make all of us stronger.

As our Senator, Aric:

  • Has held more town halls in the last two years than all of the legislators in central Minnesota combined
  • Is the only legislator in Central Minnesota who responds to all his correspondence personally
  • Has authored bills to establish term limits so that politicians stay connected with their communities and understand politics as a calling to service rather than a career

Many of our legislators thrive off the perks they receive. Aric has never taken the full amount of the per diem he’s offered as a Senator. Nor has he ever taken a penny of per diem during special session or a holiday. Politics is a moral calling – not a career or an opportunity for the selfish to enrich themselves. In terms of perks, Aric was one of the least expensive Senators in the State of Minnesota.

We deserve representatives who don’t take us for granted. We deserve a Senator who works hard to listen to and be heard by all of us—and that’s the kind of Senator Aric Putnam has been.

Legalize Cannabis

Cannabis is currently classified as a Schedule I drug along with substances like MDMA and heroin, but researchers know cannabis causes far less harm than those drugs and can even be beneficial for some medical conditions. Cannabis prohibition hasn’t been fairly enforced either, and has only deepened our country’s racial divide: arrests for cannabis use have fallen heavily on Black Americans, despite the fact that Black people and white people use cannabis at similar rates. Last, our law enforcement officers are already overworked, and responsibility for policing cannabis is yet another burden. The prohibition of cannabis in our country has been a moral and political failure, and it’s time we ended it.

But we need to be smart about how we legalize cannabis. We don’t need another extension of big pharma, with corporate farms crushing small businesses. We need to have reasonable rules to prevent underage access and impaired driving, rules like the ones we have for alcohol. But other states have solved these issues, and we can too. Colorado, for example, uses the tax money it raises from cannabis sales to fund schools, substance abuse prevention and treatment, and homelessness prevention. Two-thirds of all Americans believe cannabis should be legal, and eleven states and Washington, D.C., have already legalized it. Minnesota should join them.

Strengthen our Democracy

As a teacher for more than 20 years, Aric Putnam knows our schools. He We talk a great deal about election security, and we should. But election security is about making sure that everyone who can vote and wants to vote does so and has their vote counted. That means we need to make sure that voting is as easy as it can be to protect Minnesota’s history of high voter turnout in our safe, secure, and free elections.

As our Senator, Aric has:

  • Introduced a bill that would allow high school juniors to pre-register to vote while in their Social Studies classes and worked to make voter registration more convenient and efficient
  • Supported legislation that would make it a crime to harass election volunteers or to intimidate voters at polling places
  • Authored a resolution requesting Congress overturn the Citizens United court decision to get money out of our politics

Our job is to make sure that all eligible Minnesotans can make their voices heard and vote with the least struggle.