Sen. Julie Rosen has an enviable record as a longtime state legislator.
The Vernon Center Republican helped spearhead the Minnesota Meth Task Force and passed the state's innovative methamphetamine bill in 2005 that restricted the sale of cold medicine containing pseudoephedrine, one of the key ingredients for making meth.
She also sponsored the bill for the Minnesota Vikings new U.S. Bank Stadium, which passed in 2012.
Rosen doesn't yet feel ready to retire as a lawmaker. She's running for re-election once again, this time facing Mapleton DFLer Barbara Lake for control of Rosen's District 23 seat.
"I know I can do better than what the state has now," Rosen said. "I know I can make a difference."
Lake faces a difficult task in trying to overtake Rosen, as District 23 primarily leans conservative.
Rosen has served in the Senate since she was elected in 2002. She has become a leader withing the Senate GOP caucus, and she has more than once been mentioned as a potential gubernatorial or U.S. House candidate. Rosen serves on the Senate's bonding, environment and energy, and health and human services committees.
Health and Human Services is among her top priorities at the moment, as she and other lawmakers try to negotiate a special session to curb rate increases for individual market insurance.
"I do take this very serious," she said. "And all legislators are taking this very serious. We need to ramp up. That pretty much outshadows anything else that's on the horizon."
Whether lawmakers can agree on a solution to health insurance rates remains to be seen, however.
Before this year's legislative session, lawmakers across the state said their three largest priorities were a 10-year, $6 billion transportation package, a biannual public works project bill and a tax bill that should have been completed in 2015.
Yet lawmakers couldn't agree on the best way to fund transportation and didn't agree on how much money should be spent on a public works bonding bill before the legislative deadline. Though lawmakers passed a tax bill during the session's last weekend, Gov. Mark Dayton declined to sign it into law due to a language error that would have cost the state more than $100 million over the next three years.
Though Republican lawmakers said they were more than willing to allow fixes to the bill via a letter of intent, state officials said the bill needs to be fixed legislatively to avoid court battles from companies seeking to exploit a potential tax loophole.
On transportation, Democrats want to raise funding using a 10- to 16-cent gas tax, license registration fees and other means to pay for transportation, while Republicans hope to use part of the state's $900 million surplus, as well as general fund money from a motor parts sales tax and budget cuts to the Minnesota Department of Transportation, to fund road work.
Rosen doesn't believe there has been enough discussion to warrant a gas tax increase.
"I think the discussions on transportation have not been as transparent as they should be," she said. "There's been a lot of assumptions that have been made that it has to be a gas tax."
Democrats and Republicans also couldn't agree on a bonding bill this year after Democrats pushed for a $1.4 billion package, while Republicans initially proposed a $600 million bill then introduced a $800 million package five days before the final legislative deadline of 2016. Though the two sides negotiated throughout the last weekend of the session, what emerged was a GOP-led bonding package worth about $1 billion in special projects, along with an additional $300 million in one-year transportation funding.
Lawmakers couldn't pass the final bonding proposal in time, however, after Democrats and Republicans disagreed over a transit-related funding clause that would have allowed the Met Council to collect more money from metro-area counties.
While Rosen is fine with transit as long as the metro area pays for it, she objects to the way transit funding was introduced this session.
"That was an issue that showed up at the 15-minute mark before midnight on the last day," she said. "There was no discussion about light rail funding at the Capitol at all. There was no bill introduced in the Senate."
Though Rosen was disappointed to see the bonding and tax bills fail after the session was over, she was thankful so many lawmakers came together on aid for Madelia and infrastructure projects for communities in her district. A devastating fire in February burned down nine businesses and seven buildings, which prompted a variety of aid funding directed toward helping Madelia's downtown recover.
Those measures weren't passed into law, however, thanks to the partisan gridlock over bonding and tax issues.
Rosen supports several of the proposed legislative rule changes suggested by many lawmakers and candidates around the state, but she believes the gridlock won't end unless Dayton softens his stance on several issues as well.
"We don't feel this gridlock until we need to have the leadership from the executive branch there to help be a guide," she said. "The governor needs to set the framework up at the very beginning saying if this goes through, there will be a veto. And then the politics will work itself out."
Rosen already has had a taste of politics on the campaign trail. Anti-Rosen voters have sent in recent letters to the editor in several publications publicly accusing her of not living within her own district. They pointed out she has a large home in Mendota Heights but lists her address as a smaller home in Vernon Center, which she rents from a relative of Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Vernon Center.
The accusations mirror the scandal surrounding Rep. Bob Barrett in District 32B. Last month, a judge ruled Barrett was an ineligible candidate for office after they found Barrett didn't actually live in the district he represented. The November election for his seat will be nullified and a special election will be held in February.
Rosen said she was offended by the attack, and she does in fact reside at her Vernon Center home.
"There's rarely a time when I miss anything in my district," she said. "But it gets to be kind of creepy when you see your square footage, the properties you own ... they even talk about my land over in Lake City."
If re-elected, Rosen would like to work on workforce development issues within the region, education funding, mental health issues and even more drug-related issues than she tackles now.
"There's so many things that you could direct your attention towards," she said.