Hello from the Capitol,
I hope you had a blessed Easter weekend. The legislative session has resumed and we are back to work.
Health and Human Services (HHS):
I have the privilege to be a member of the HHS Finance Committee. This is one of the most demanding and difficult committees in the legislature, because of the many, many needs for services and the people of Minnesota whom we want to serve. The funding decisions we have to make are not easy ones. I thank all of the advocates who have visited, called, or written to me to share their stories and input during this process. Two Fridays ago, the House passed the Health and Human Services omnibus bill. This bill is focused on protecting Minnesota's most vulnerable citizens.
Some key provisions:
- Funds a 25% reduction in the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility (TEFRA) parental fees, to help relieve the financial burden on families with disabled and very sick children
- Preserves a 7% funding increase for home and community based caregivers
- Increases emergency shelter and transitional housing for sexually exploited youth
- Implements Safe Harbor for All, a statewide strategic plan for all victims of sex trafficking
- Funds children's school-linked mental health grants
- Increases the statewide bed capacity for inpatient psychiatric services for mentally ill children and adolescents
- Provides funding for first psychiatric episode treatment and services
This bill, along with the other omnibus bills, will be finalized in conference committee over the next few weeks with the Senate.
This week we began the Conference Committee process. Conference Committees are made up of 5 Representatives and 5 Senators. Each committee’s job is to come to a compromise on the differing aspects of the House and Senate budget bills. After the conference committee finalizes the bill, it is then sent for a vote of each body (House & Senate) before heading to the Governor’s desk for his consideration. I am hopeful that the Governor and his staff will be actively engaged with our committees during this process.
Veterans have given so much to our country and in turn, our community, and I believe they should be a priority at the Capitol. The Taxes omnibus bill contains provisions that reduces property taxes for veteran organizations and permanently eliminates the homestead tax on spouses of deceased/disabled veterans. Additionally, the Legacy Funding omnibus bill provides funding to construct a commemorative memorial at the Capitol to honor all Minnesota Medal of Honor recipients and facility improvements for veteran rest camps. I’d like to thank Mr. Andru Peters, from Lake City, who came to the Capitol to testify on behalf of many veteran-related bills.
The State Government Finance omnibus bill also contains a lot of good provisions for our military veterans; these include: expanding GI Bill flexibility to include apprenticeships and on-the-job training benefits, as well as other professional and educational benefits. This bill also funds programs that help veterans achieve home ownership and veterans returning from active duty with PTSD who get caught up in the legal system.
I’d like to recognize our High School FIRST Robotics Teams for their amazing work and success this season. We have two teams in Red Wing and one team in Cannon Falls. I’d also like to mention the Red Wing High School Skills USA team that had numerous team members place at their state competition this month. All of these programs give our students real life experiences with technical skills and trades that are very in demand in today’s workforce.
The photo below is of the Red Wing - Tower View Robotics Team who finished 18th of 63 teams with a record of 5-3-0 at the Minnesota 10000 Lakes Regional Competition!
College student, Katie Coyle, from Lake City, visited me this week to talk about legislation that is important to her and her field of study. Great to see young people engaged in the legislative process!
Staying In Touch:
If you ever have any questions, comments, or concerns regarding anything related to state government, please do not hesitate to contact me at email@example.com or 651-296-8635.
I appreciate your comments and concerns as it helps me be a better representative.
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