Hello from St. Paul,
With our second committee deadline behind us and a budget target reached by the majority party leadership, our finance committees are approving spending bills to fund state government programs for the next two years.
NURSING HOME CRISIS MUST BE ADDRESSED
Solving our nursing home problems should be near the top of legislative leadership’s to-do list. Unfortunately, it is not.
For years, I have been talking about the ‘silver tsunami’ that is hitting Minnesota, as we now have 1.3 million residents who are 65 years of age or older. As they continue to age, their need for care increases, and the State of Minnesota is not coming close to meeting the demands of our elderly population.
Lawmakers were told at a recent committee hearing that in the month of October, 11,000 people were turned away from nursing homes, mainly due to lack of staff. The inability to fully staff our nursing homes then creates unwanted stress on our hospitals, as nearly 20% of their bedspace is being taken up by people who should be recovering in nursing homes or assisted living facilities.
It’s estimated that the long-term care industry needs another 53,000 workers in order to provide the services necessary for our aging residents.
On Thursday, caregivers, impacted residents, and long-term care advocates rallied at the State Capitol to bring attention to this crisis. I fully support their efforts. With a $17 billion surplus, we have the ability to address these problems, ensure that our nursing homes remain open in our communities, and provide caregivers with the wages they need. Those in control don't have the luxury of kicking this can down the road. As government funding priorities are receiving budget targets right now, it’s time to do the only thing we can do and prioritize nursing homes and our most vulnerable residents.
BILL ADDRESSING TRANSGENDER CHILD SEX CHANGE DECISIONS APPROVED IN HOUSE
Under a bill approved by the House majority last week, Minnesota moved one step closer to becoming a “sanctuary state” that allows children and their parents to change their child’s biological sex.
According to the bill language, kids can be brought to Minnesota “by one parent or a person acting as parent” and be given transgender health care, including puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and genital surgery, in some cases without their parents’ permission. There are no age limits on how old children must be before getting these irreversible treatments.
The bill also created a new definition of “gender-affirming healthcare” that “respects the gender identity of the patient, as experienced and defined by the patient.” This means a patient, including a minor, can self-diagnose and the doctor must provide care according to the patient’s definition.
I voted no on this proposal, which now heads to the Minnesota Senate for further debate.
BONDING BILL UPDATE
An updated capital investment bill has not been unveiled and is still in the crafting stages. I am continuing to work hard in order to get our local projects included.
WORKFORCE BILL ADVANCES
A bit of good news - the Southwestern Minnesota Workforce Development Scholarship Program continues to advance through the legislative process. The proposal, which has received weekly updates lately, was not originally included in the introduction of the workforce bill. After working with key committee members and asking our local mayors to help submit last minute words of support, an amendment added the program into the jobs bill this morning. I am sincerely grateful for the help of our mayors to elevate this project to the next level. Next stop is the Committee on Ways and Means.
Have a good weekend,