Building a Better Minnesota

“In all these long years it has been like a wise and loving mother to all who have come through its doors.”
Dr. Martha Ripley

There was something that the energetic and passionate Dr. Martha Ripley was good at: building places of compassion for unwed mothers. Martha learned a sense of justice from her parents while growing up in Iowa where they assisted runaway slaves, led the effort to help their community through a diphtheria outbreak, and volunteered during the Civil War. Martha moved east with her husband were she would gain a medical degree. After her husband was severely injured in a work accident, they moved to Minneapolis in 1883 to be near his family. It was here that Martha used her immense energy to build a better Minnesota.

It was evident to Martha as she practiced in obstetrics that many unwed mothers had no caring place to go nor any good options for birth care. It was in 1986 that she set up her first Maternity Hospital in a small building in Minneapolis and founded the Women’s Rescue League. Throughout the years she quickly outgrew facility after facility as word spread amongst the forgotten women of Minneapolis about the compassionate and understanding care Martha’s hospitals provided.

Representative Alice Hausman

Representative Alice Hausman

She would not stop building bigger facilities until she passed away in 1912 just as her last hospital on Glenwood Avenue in Minneapolis was completed. It would later be renamed the Ripley Memorial Foundation Hospital. Her tireless devotion to building safe and welcoming places for unwed mothers to deliver their children was so respected in Minnesota that after her death a plaque was placed in the Capitol rotunda in her honor.

Demonstrating the same spirit of Dr. Martha Ripley of being a tireless builder in today’s Capitol is Rep. Alice Hausman (DFL-St. Paul). As chairwoman of the House Capital Investments Committee, Rep. Hausman is responsible for overseeing the state’s construction projects and acquisition of land. This is extremely important for the environment community in that this committee is responsible for the expenditures to acquire and protect critical habitat, develop wastewater treatment plants and expand our state park and trail system.

This year Rep. Hausman has truly been one of the most dedicated advocates for conservation through her role as chair of the Capital Investments Committee. In the past, conservation projects have made up about 22% of the expenditures made through the capital investments bill. The governor’s proposal started off way below this amount, but Rep. Hausman’s proposal released this week raised that amount to 21.7% of her $850 million proposal. Her proposal includes $20 million for RIM conservation easements, $19.4 million for state parks and $12 million for research facility at the University of Minnesota to combat aquatic invasive species and other critical research for habitat protection.

Like Dr. Ripley, Rep. Hausman has shown singular commitment to making Minnesota a better place. The conservation community is very fortunate to have Rep. Hausman as a champion. There still is a long way to go before the final capital investments bill is completed this session, but thanks to Rep. Hausman we are in a much better position as the bill enters its final negotiations.

About John Tuma

John is a former state legislator and litigation attorney. He served in the Minnesota House of Representatives for eight years from the Northfield area, beginning in 1994. Elected as a Republican, John was known for his independent thinking and ability to work across party lines. He is well-known in Minnesota state government circles.
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