I want to wish everyone in our community a Happy Father’s Day! Additionally, tomorrow is Juneteenth, commemorating the day when the last enslaved people finally achieved freedom – a full two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. Information about celebrations in the Twin Ports is available here.
Improving Health Care
Despite Senate Republicans walking away from work to finalize a compromise on a full supplemental budget to help Minnesotans tackle rising costs, deliver more resources to classrooms, and improve public safety, lawmakers did accomplish some important work for Minnesotans. One example is the Health and Human Services Policy bill, of which I was the chief author, that included a variety of changes including those related to scope of practice, child welfare and child protection, behavioral health, services for people with disabilities and vulnerable adults, child care, and others.
The legislation includes provisions related to criteria for intractable pain medication, a prohibition on discrimination based on race or ethnicity for access to transplants, and clear regulations on products containing cannabinoids. The bill contains scope of practice changes for dental therapists, podiatrists, and pharmacists, and allows telesupervision for counselors, therapists, and social workers. Health, safety, and welfare of nursing home and long-term care facilities will be protected with changes to assisted living licensure, change of ownership protections, and other reforms.
All Minnesotans deserve a healthy future in our state. Our HHS Policy bill reflects collaborative, bipartisan reforms to improve health care and other critical services people and families count on.
Strengthening Mental Health
In the last hours of the legislative session, lawmakers also worked together on a comprehensive package of legislation addressing the mental health of Minnesotans. The bill invests in the state’s mental health system which will increase hospital bed capacity, attract new mental health care professionals, and expand the use of mobile crisis services. The new law also includes $30 million to create an improved system to better serve those involved in the criminal justice system who are found not competent to stand trial.
Supporting Our Veterans
Lawmakers also came together to pass a Veterans and Military Affairs bill supporting those who’ve courageously served our nation. This bill invests significant new funding to address veteran homelessness, provides additional funding for Minnesota’s three new veterans homes, and enlistment incentives for members of the Minnesota National Guard.
The budget also includes funding to recognize post-9/11-era veterans – and Gold Star Families – with service bonuses of up to $2,000. There are approximately 48,000 eligible veterans, over half of whom deployed to combat operations including those in Afghanistan or Iraq. We have long a history of awarding service bonuses to Minnesota Veterans who served in America’s wars. Starting in 1919 after World War I, through World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam War, Persian Gulf War, and now the Global War on Terrorism.
The Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs is facilitating the program. The application period will begin on July 7 and you can learn more here.
Frontline Worker Pay
One of our priorities this session was to give our frontline heroes the bonus pay they deserve after making incredible sacrifices during the toughest days of the pandemic. This session, lawmakers approved $500 million worth of additional payments for these heroes who can now apply for the bonus payments. Minnesotans who worked in health care, as first responders, food service, retail, and more are eligible for these bonuses. To view eligibility criteria and apply, please visit frontlinepay.mn.gov. Applications must be sent in by Friday, July 22.
Please continue to stay in touch with your viewpoints, ideas, or if I can ever be of assistance. Thank you for the honor of working as your public servant.