Your input is valuable to me, and I'd like to hear from you about important issues being debated at the Capitol. If you haven't done so yet, please take my survey by clicking the link below. Also, don't forget to share it with your family and friends in District 29B!
Patient Safe Zone Bill
Last week in the Health and Human Services Reform Committee, they held a hearing on my bipartisan Patient Safe Zone Bill which protects staff, patients and visitors in a hospital, hospice or nursing home.
The definition of Patient Safe Zone would be added to the sections of law that offer additional protections in regards to drugs and guns in a "school zone, park zone, public housing zone, or drug treatment facility." It would also increase penalties for inmates who, while receiving treatment in a hospital, assault hospital staff. If enacted, inmates who assault hospital staff would face the same penalties as assaulting a prison guard.
This legislation is about protecting hardworking hospital staff, and I am pleased it is advancing through the committee process.
Specialty Courts Funding
In the Public Safety and Crime Prevention Committee last week, my bipartisan specialty courts funding bill received a hearing. HF 1180 appropriates $1 million for FY 2016-17 to expand Minnesota's specialty courts for people with chemical dependency problems or mental illness. I believe these courts are not only a great avenue to relieve the pressure on our criminal courts, but also turn around the lives of many people suffering from a drug problem or mental illness, helping them become productive members of society once again.
An estimated 80 percent of people who go through our court system have a chemical dependency, and 60-65 percent have a mental illness. These specialty courts offer an alternative way to help people convicted of a crime receive the mental health care and wrap around services they need, and have also proven to have lower recidivism rates than our regular court system.
Nursing Home Reimbursement Legislation
On March 11th in the Aging and Long-Term Care Committee, they heard HF 562, a bill I authored to increase the Wright County nursing home reimbursement rate to that of the metro rate. Our county is surrounded by other counties that pay a higher reimbursement rate to nursing homes, putting us at a disadvantage to attract and retain quality, qualified staff to take care of our seniors. Passing this rate adjustment into law will help our local nursing facilities cover operating costs, and ensure they receive fair funding. Anne Dirks from Parkview Care Center in Buffalo and Jason Nelson from Lakeridge Care Center in Buffalo testified on behalf of the bill.
Taking care of our aging adults and disabled is so important, and that is why I am honored to carry this bill on behalf of the long-term care facilities in Wright County.
Constituents at the Capitol
I always appreciate when constituents are able to stop by the Capitol and share their priorities with me. Last week, I was able to meet with:
REM South Central Services members who came to discuss 5% cost of living adjustments and the minimum wage
Brian Hoffman and Kara Radke from Monticello Local 2010 who came to discuss Education Minnesota priorities
Theresa Miller from Buffalo who came to discuss 5% cost of living adjustments on behalf of people with disabilities
Chris Scott, a University of St. Thomas student, who came to discuss the Minnesota State Grant Program
If you would like to set up a meeting with me at the Capitol, I invite you to contact my office to make an appointment.
As always, please feel free to contact me about any state legislative issue. You can e-mail at Rep.Marion.ONeill@House.MN or call my office at 651-296-5063. You can also write a letter to me. My office address at the Capitol is 549 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, St. Paul, MN 55155.