Rep. Anne Neu Brindley, R-North Branch, is serving her third term in the Minnesota House and has quickly risen the ranks into leadership. Neu Brindley had been a prominent Republican operative who managed the congressional campaign of former Rep. Chip Cravaack in 2010, helping him upset longtime U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar.
Neu Brindley’s late husband, who died after a battle with ALS, encouraged her to become a candidate herself, the Star Tribune reported during the special election campaign she won in 2017. Even before the pandemic, Neu Brindley was homeschooling her five children. She’s now deputy minority leader and well-positioned to play a major role in state government, especially should Republicans win the House majority in 2022.
In an interview with the Reformer, she discussed some of her priorities for the new legislative session, and how Minnesota should confront COVID-19 and a feared budget deficit.
The interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Being the only divided Legislature in the country, how do you plan to reach across the aisle to pass legislation?
What we hear in the press is the controversial stuff, the stuff we don’t agree on. But the vast majority of what we do is bipartisan. We passed a couple of bills yesterday (Jan. 29) with the support of most members of the chamber, and I think people don’t realize that that’s actually the norm.
What are your top three priorities heading into this session?
We still need to work towards defeating COVID-19 and bringing our economy back. This means making sure that we’re getting the folks who are most vulnerable and those who work with them immunized. And unfortunately, that has not been going well in Minnesota.
We need to end Gov. Tim Walz’s emergency powers. It’s been very clear for a long time now that we’re not functioning in the same emergency that we were in the very beginning. A lot could be done in a more transparent way through the Legislature.
And then finally, we’ve got to protect Minnesotans and their pocketbooks. It’s pretty disheartening to see that in a year that has seen devastating unemployment and underemployment in Minnesota after the governor’s shutdowns of our state, to see him proposing tax increases.
How do you plan to help close the expected deficits this year?
The most effective way to close the deficit is by getting our economy up and running. That is the number one driver of a healthy state budget. Our government and our agencies need to tighten our belts as well.
How do you propose meeting the challenges of the ongoing pandemic?
We need to have everyone working together — the Legislature, the governor’s office, the Department of Health — in a transparent way to make sure that we are putting forward good policy for Minnesotans. That includes ending the emergency powers to make sure the Legislature is empowered to be at the table. If we have more eyes on it, we would make better decisions.
What about your background gives you a unique perspective that supports your constituents?
I’m a really big believer that we need a citizen Legislature, and my background is one piece of the puzzle. I’m a mom, I am a caregiver — for many years I worked in long-term care. And my experience — brought together with everyone else’s experience — brings a really well-rounded approach to meeting the needs of Minnesotans.