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Heintzeman announces re-election bid for Minnesota House

State Rep. Josh Heintzeman, R-Nisswa, announced his intention to seek election for a third term. File Photo

State Rep. Josh Heintzeman, R-Nisswa, announced Wednesday he will seek a third term in the Minnesota House of Representatives.

Heintzeman represents House District 10A, which encompasses a little more than one-third of Crow Wing County, including Brainerd and Baxter.

"This is one of those things that you carefully consider, you don't just throw your hat in. It's something you pray about, talk with folks, talk with friends," Heintzeman said during a phone interview. "I think we've come a long way. I'd like to make sure that those things that have improved in Minnesota are allowed to have the time to work."

Heintzeman cited the statewide $650 million tax cuts implemented July 1, as well as increases in mining jobs throughout greater Minnesota and a number of environmental initiatives as legislative victories he wants to see come to fruition through a third term in office.

Environmental issues stand out as a point of focus, Heintzeman added, and they look to remain a prominent part of his platform going forward—particularly in the Brainerd lakes area, where aquatic invasive species, lake restoration and the development of water-related recreation are crucial.

"Here in greater Minnesota, with everyone on the lakes, one of the contentious issues with our lakes associations and, for example, the DNR has been narrow-leaf cattail and its hybrid in terms of its management," Heintzeman said. "This is something I'd like to work on in my third term. We don't consider the narrow-leaf cattail invasive. It is known to be 10 or 11 times more prolific than the native species. It doesn't make any sense. Unfortunately, it takes legislation to roll that back."

Much in the same vein as a veteran's exemption from income tax bill he championed when he was a freshman state representative, Heintzeman said he hopes to focus on completing unfinished business in regards to Social Security benefits. While the 2017 tax cuts exempted a portion of these benefits, Heintzeman said he's seeking to have all Social Security benefits exempted.

Describing it as a point of frustration during his second term, Heintzeman pointed to his enhanced penalties bill, which is currently being considered by the state House of Representatives.

The bill—or, "Macy's Law," so named after Macy Kujava who was placed in a vegetative state after a driver with a revoked license crossed into her lane and collided with her vehicle—seeks to punish repeat offenders without a valid driver's license with enhanced penalties and minimum fines established.

"I thought, 'My goodness, it's a misdemeanor that folks are looking at if they break the law and drive without a driver's license and hurt somebody in this way?' That can't possibly be a difficult issue to change," Heintzeman said. "It's a more severe penalty to shine a gray wolf in Minnesota than it is to permanently injure another human being."

Despite having a "very receptive" House of Representatives, Heintzeman said, it's been difficult work to find agreement with colleagues in the state Senate—a process that's lasted longer than two years and may continue into a third term if he's unsuccessful this session.

It's been a learning experience, Heintzeman said, having served two terms and pursuing a third, to dispel misconceptions he's had about what it means to serve as a state legislator.

"There's all kinds of notions to what it is or isn't to serve at this level. Lots of times, even in my life before the state Legislature, I would wonder why it's so hard to move the needle, so to speak, on some of these issues," Heintzeman said. "The thought would cross my mind that all you needed was the right person to walk down and change things. But experience and relationships built over the course of time really play a huge role in moving legislation through the process."

Heintzeman currently serves as vice-chair of the Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee, is a member of the Health and Human Services Finance Committee, and the Higher Education Policy and Finance Committee, as well as the Subcommittee on Mining, Forestry and Tourism.

Heintzeman received his degree in business management from Central Lakes College and is the owner of Up Country Log. He and his wife Keri have six children and live in Nisswa.