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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Josh Heintzeman (R)

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Legislative Update (November 6, 2015)

Friday, November 6, 2015

Dear Neighbors,

I hope you have had a chance to enjoy the seasonally warm temperatures as the first week of November is coming to a close. It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving is right around the corner as we are now just weeks away from the holiday season. Here is a recap of some recent events and meetings I attended around the district.

House Aging and Long Term Care Committee Chairman Visits Brainerd

Late last month, House Aging and Long Term Care Committee Chairman Joe Schomacker and I visited Good Samaritan nursing home in Brainerd to meet with employees and administrators and discuss the challenges facing nursing homes in our area.

Additionally, we discussed the historic investments the 2015 Legislature made in rural nursing homes. Thanks to the hard work of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, nursing homes will see $138 million in new funding. More specifically, Good Samaritan will see an estimated $1.25 million in additional dollars thanks to these new reimbursement rates. This is money that is free for facilities to use as they see fit. Whether it be raises for employees or facility upgrades—the choice is theirs.

I am proud of the work we accomplished this year to ensure that our senior and those who care for them are given the attention they deserve. This remains among my top priorities and I look forward to continuing this work in the coming session.

House Greater Minnesota Jobs Committee Visits Lakes Area

Last Friday, members of the Greater Minnesota Economic& Workforce Development Policy Committee visited Brainerd for tours of Central Lakes College and Consolidated Telephone Company.

At CLC we spoke with local business leaders and educators to learn about ways the school can work with employers in the area to connect students with training and job opportunities.

I am committed to working hard to empower or students and colleges to ensure that our young people are trained and prepared for jobs once they leave post-secondary education.

After visiting CLC, committee members and I made our way to Consolidated Telephone to hear about broadband expansion opportunities.

More specifically, we met to discuss Consolidated Telephone Cooperative's (CTC) award of $2 million (by the Office of Broadband Development) to bring high-speed Internet to 247 unserved and 90 underserved premises in Cass, Crow Wing and Morrison counties.

This is a shovel-ready, first phase regional broadband development effort. The full project cost is $4.22 million. The remaining $2.22 million in matching funds will be supplied by a private investment made by CTC. This project builds on a multi-sector, multi-year and multi-community strategic planning and implementation process for sustainable community and economic development.

While on the tour—and as mentioned in the Brainerd Daily Dispatch’s story—my colleagues and I were informed from CTC staff that there were certain, unforeseen, issues with the state’s grant money.

The prevailing wage—which due to the way the grant was written requires a competitive wage paid similar to what it is in the Twin Cities area—actually impeded the project and burnt a very significant portion of the $2 million grant because of labor costs.

The Legislature has to look at the issue and determine what we can do to at least make these grants regionally flexible.

This is an exciting time for our area as these broadband grants present numerous opportunities for improved internet access for the people of Greater Minnesota. I am committed to ensuring that families and businesses will benefit from these grants in the most efficient and effective ways possible.

House Speaker Set to Visit Area Next Week

I am hosting House Speaker Kurt Daudt next week as he visits the area to meet with and tour a number of local businesses to gain a better understanding of the successes and challenges facing the Lakes Area. I will have more details and a recap of his visit late next week.

Staying in Touch

Thanks for taking time to read this week’s update. Please feel free to contact my office by phone at 651-296-4929 or via email at to discuss any issues you may have during the interim. It would be an honor to speak with you and discuss ways we can make Minnesota better.