State of the Union: These Minnesotans are attending as guests

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 07: U.S. President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on February 7, 2023 in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. The speech marks Bidens first address to the

President Joe Biden is delivering the State of the Union address Thursday night, and several Minnesotans are attending as guests of congressional lawmakers, along with a Plymouth teacher attending as a White House guest. 

Keenan Jones, of Plymouth, Minnesota, was invited to be one of 20 people joining First Lady Jill Biden in her viewing box during the address. Jones is a middle school teacher who wrote to President Biden in April 2023, thanking him for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program that allowed him to be free of student debt after 10 years of service. 

Other Congressional lawmakers, such as Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Sen. Tina Smith, and Rep. Ilhan Omar, are bringing guests to the State of the Union. Here are some of the people attending. 

Sen. Amy Klobuchar and guest Ann Bussey

U.S. Sen. Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) is bringing Ann Bussey of Side Lake, Minnesota, located approximately 55 miles northeast of Grand Rapids, Minnesota. 

Bussey is a senior who advocates for the expansion of high-speed internet access and lowering the cost of prescription drugs. In 2023, she won the Minnesota Debarment of Health Rural Hero award, and in 2021, she joined the University of Minnesota REACH Program, which partners community advocates with research scientists in attempts to improve rural health outcomes. 

"Ann Bussey has fought to improve the lives of seniors in Minnesota, and I’m proud to have her join me at this year’s State of the Union address," said Klobuchar in a statement. "Ann understands the challenges faced by older Americans in our state, especially rural areas, and her advocacy will be critical as we continue to bring down prescription drug costs for seniors and expand broadband access."

Sen. Tina Smith and guest Tammi Kromenaker

U.S. Sen. Smith (D-Minnesota) is bringing Tammi Kromenaker, the Clinic Director of the Red River Women’s Clinic in Moorhead, as her guest on Thursday. 

The clinic largely operated in Fargo, North Dakota, for 25 years, but when Roe v. Wade was overturned, the state implemented restrictions on abortions. To continue serving patients, Kromenaker moved the clinic across the border to Minnesota. 

"The story of Tammi and her clinic represents the absolute chaos for Americans after the Supreme Court ruling, and her commitment to continuing to provide health care for women in a challenging landscape is inspiring. I’m so glad to have her by my side at President Biden’s State of the Union," Smith said in a statement.

Rep. Ilhan Omar and guest State Rep. Cedrick Frazier

U.S. Rep. Omar (D-Minnesota) is bringing Minnesota State Rep. Cedrick Frazier (DFL-New Hope) as her guest. Frazier authored the Restore the Vote legislation, which reinstated voting rights to more than 55,000 Minnesotans with felony convictions. 

"I'm honored to welcome Rep. Cedrick Frazier to the State of the Union as my guest," said Omar in a statement. "His leadership in passing the Restore the Vote Act in Minnesota encapsulates the spirit of justice, rehabilitation and empowerment that should guide our democracy. At a time when voting rights remain under threat across the country, Rep. Frazier's work serves as a powerful example of how expanding access to the ballot box strengthens our communities and nation."