Southeastern Minnesota comments on the State of the Union - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Southeastern Minnesota comments on the State of the Union

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- Every year, the President's State of the Union address is a controversial topic. Democrats support certain issues, and Republicans support others.

But not every issue, opinion or person is as cut and dry as a President's speech and the opposition's response.

So we asked a simple question of Southeastern Minnesota: If you were the person standing before the nation to deliver the State of the Union address, what issue would dominate your speech?

What was the biggest issue in 2013, and what needs to happen in coming year?

Most Americans don't give speeches or campaign for re-election, but every American is impacted by the decisions made in Washington and the rippling effects throughout the nation.

For many of the ordinary people at the American Legion in Rochester, they say 2014 needs to be about building an economy where retirees and veterans can afford to get by -- and getting stuff done.

"If the Democrats and Republicans could work together we could do a whole lot more, but they can't seem to get together and get it done," said Tom Quick, the Rochester American Legion Commander.

Others say the answer to a thriving economy could be found in comprehensive immigration reform.

"It's going to affect everything else we are trying to do," said Ron Buzard, the Executive Director of the Intercultural Mutual Assistance Association. "And I think especially as we are trying to turn the economy around, I think immigration reform needs to accommodate that."

For others, and many in the Med City, healthcare is the biggest issue -- whether they think Obamacare goes too far or not far enough.

"I think any time you initiate change it is progress," said Hannah Brice Smith, a Mayo Clinic patient from Alaska. "Whether it is progress in the way that is the answer in the end, maybe not. But when you generate change like Obamacare has, that is the start of progress."

In another industry that drives the economy of southeastern Minnesota, they say its about making sure there is an environment where agriculture can survive.

"If you look at the majority of our farming population, its a very aging generation, and I think there's a lot of opportunity for young people to step up," said Mike Reps from Ag Partners in Cannon Falls. "Within production agriculture in particular it's increasingly difficult for people to get started."

And for others, the success of our country is rooted in the premise that even on a night when the most powerful speak, everyone has a voice.

"If we give hope to people, then they are going to embrace the fabric that they are within, and they are going to better participants in this whole process that is a collective process," said John Kruesel, a Rochester business owner. "We need to include everyone in the discussion. How do we do that? With transparency and clarity."

At the end of the day, whether you agreed with the President's speech, the Republican response, parts of both or neither -- it's clear the issues discussed -- spending, immigration, healthcare and many others -- are very real and impact a lot of lives all these miles from Washington D.C.

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