Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I hope you’ve had a chance to get outside and enjoy the warmer temperatures and beautiful spring weather we’ve had recently. As we wrap up another busy week, here’s an update on what’s happening in St. Paul, including info on flooding, childcare fraud, insulin resources, and some Capitol visits.
On Thursday, the House approved legislation to replenish funding for the state’s disaster contingency account with $10 million. This account allocates funding to communities to help with cleanup from natural disasters. With this winter’s record snowfall, serious flooding is already happening in some parts of the state. Flooding is an especially relevant threat for river communities like ours, so it’s important the state is ready to respond.
While $10 million is significant, I would have preferred to see even more put into the account. House Republicans tried amending the legislation to add an additional $33 million to the account but the proposal was unfortunately rejected. Considering that the state responded with over $11 million in relief for just two flooding events last year, $10 million almost certainly won’t be enough to cover all the flood relief costs in a year with record snowfall. More dollars will likely be needed and we don’t want to have to call a special session this summer to take care of this. I’m hopeful the legislature can come together in the coming weeks to make sure this account and the state are prepared to help impacted communities later this year.
Tomorrow morning the Red Wing YMCA, Red Wing Arts, The Red Wing Visitors & Convention Bureau, and The Depot are looking for volunteers to help sandbag from 8am-12pm. I will be sandbagging with the group and I’d encourage you to join us if you’re available. The group will meet at the parking lot below the Red Wing YMCA at 8am.
I’ve written in previous weeks about the widespread fraud in our state’s childcare assistance program. On Monday, I joined my Republican colleagues in the House as we unveiled a legislative package to address this fraud. Included in this proposal are measures to increase penalties and consequences for committing fraud; provide better controls to prevent fraud from occurring; give investigators additional tools to aid in their investigations; eliminate eligibility for those who have committed fraud; require enhanced eligibility checks; and improve oversight of the program.
While this proposal represents a strong step in our efforts to get this rampant fraud under control, I’m concerned the DFL House majority isn’t taking this problem seriously enough. I’m disappointed that, three months into the legislative session, they’ve held hearings on so few bills and still haven’t held a hearing on the report itself.
This report made it clear that lawmakers must take immediate action. I’m hopeful Democrats will begin to take steps to correct this problem so we can ensure these resources are going to the program’s intended purpose of helping low-income families afford childcare.
I serve on the Health and Human Services Finance Committee, which considers bills related to the costs of healthcare and prescription drugs. Rising insulin costs is a topic receiving a lot of media attention and we've heard heartbreaking stories of families struggling to afford their insulin. Ultimately, significant policy change at the federal level is required to fully address this crisis. In the meantime, I want residents in our community to know resources may be available to them. The three largest insulin manufacturers have programs to provide emergency relief to patients who can't afford their insulin. More information can be found at the links below. I hope this information is helpful.
•Lilly Diabetes Solution Center: www.insulinaffordability.com/solutions or 1-833-808-1234
•Novo Nordisk's Patient Assistance Program: https://www.novocare.com/psp/PAP.html
•Sanofi's "The Insulins Valyou Savings Program": https://www.admelog.com/insulins-valyou-savings-program…
Thank you to Jim Abbot and Dave Wodele for testifying in support of a bill to help St Elizabeth’s hospital in Wabasha maintain the tax free status of their “Field of Dreams” farm land so the profits can continue to support St. E’s Foundation.
Had the opportunity to meet with Red Wing school board members this week!
Visited with superintendents from schools in our area about education issues.
Marcus Parence of Cannon Falls came by for Care Providers of Minnesota Day at the Capitol.
Staying in Touch
If you ever have any questions or concerns regarding any issue, please feel free to contact me any time. I can be best reached at email@example.com or at 651-296-8635.
Have a great weekend,