One-On-One: Senator Rarick Talks Broadband, Infrastructure & Recreational Marijuana

FOX 21's Brett Scott Talks With Newly Elected State Senator Jason Rarick (R)

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Minnesota’s newest state Senator, Jason Rarick, has now been on the job for a little over one week since being sworn into office Wednesday, February 6.

“It was a long month of hard work with some nasty weather but we were all really excited when we saw the final results,” said Rarick.

Senator Rarick recently came out on top in a highly contested special election in Minnesota’s 11th District.

“I think this is a sign, our area doesn’t identify real highly as a democrat or a republican. They tend to look at the candidates and I think this really showed that they’re looking at the candidate and at individual policies much more than party,” said Rarick.

He faced off against democrat Stu Lourey. The seat Rarick now occupies was previously filled by Lourey’s father, Tony Lourey. A special election being called by Minnesota Governor Tim Walz after his administration named Lourey to be the Human Services Commissioner for the State of Minnesota.

“We were really unsure about what was going to happen. We knew it was going to be close. You just never know what the turnout is going to be and who’s going to be motivated to show up,” said Rarick.

Rarick says now he’s focused on getting the ball rolling as he vacates his seat in the House, and settles in with the Senate.

“I’d like to see some things start passing that instead of just one party voting for it and it passing that way, maybe having some from each party vote yes, some from each side vote no, but still get it passed that way,” said Rarick.

Rarick says broadband expansion will be a major topic on his agenda as state senator. Fair property taxes in Pine, Carlton and Southern St. Louis County will also be a high priority.

“Right now I really would rather not support a gas tax,” said Rarick.

Rarick is not shy about opposing many of the Governor’s viewpoints, especially when it comes to funding infrastructure.

“In our area especially, people have work trucks, the farmers hauling things, the gas tax really hits the rural areas much harder,” said Rarick.

Walz has said he will push to raise the state’s gas tax to help pay for infrastructure improvements, a measure which would first have to be taken up by the state legislators before being put into law.

“We absolutely have to make investments in our infrastructure whether it’s with roads and bridges, broadband and just the structure that’s already in place whether it’s at the ports or wherever in Minnesota; we’ve got to keep up what we have,” said Rarick.

Among other topics Rarick is not in agreement with include legalization of recreational marijuana in the state.

“Right now I can’t get behind that one. It’s something that’s probably coming down the line but when I look at what’s happening in Colorado right now, they’re having some issues. They talked about it would raise a lot of revenue for schools and other programs,” said Rarick.

He believes recreational marijuana is already costing other states more money, rather than proving beneficial.

“Right now they’re starting to give reports saying that for every dollar they bring in it’s costing about four to six dollars in other programs like through their HHS Department,” said Rarick. “I do believe that the enforcement on it is something that we should be backing off on a little bit.”

Rarick believes Minnesota should sit back four or five years while watching other states legalize and figure out the fine print. While the state’s newest senator plans to fight for what he believes is right for Minnesotans, he’s also eager to work with both sides of the aisle, especially Governor Walz.

“I’ve said all along, I believe it’s going to be a positive step. My four years that I’ve been here were under Governor Dayton, and I know there were some issues back and forth with negotiating between the House, Senate and Governor’s Office but Governor Walz has made it a point to say he is going to work with people and reach out, and from what I’ve seen so far I believe he is doing that,” said Rarick.

Rarick also spoke of his support for the proposed Copper Nickel Mine in Hoyt Lakes to move forward. He believes the process could be moving faster for this project as well as the proposed Enbridge Line 3 Pipeline replacement project that would run through northern Minnesota.

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