As the chair of the House State and Local Government committee, I’m pleased to share a few highlights from our final budget compromise. We’re investing in overdue technology and cybersecurity upgrades around the state including statewide cybersecurity tools, grants to county and local governments, and protections for our emergency radio broadcast system. The committee and I- Democrats and Republicans- are committed to ensuring our state systems and information is safe, secure, and efficient in an ever-evolving cyber environment. We’re also increasing grant administration oversight to ensure state grant funds reach their intended recipients.
Minnesota’s state demographer estimates that an additional 285,000 Minnesotans will turn 65 over the next decade which is greater than the past 40 years combined. In response to the anticipated silver tsunami, the conference committee report establishes my measure to create a Task Force on Aging to review aging-related government functions, programs, and services. It also is charged with creating plans to improve health and support services, public and private strategies to support family caregivers, sustainment of neighborhoods and communities, and supporting quality of care and life improvements in long-term care homes.
Historic Investments in Public Education
I'd also like to highlight K-12 Education budget bill we passed earlier this month. The bill delivers $2.2 billion in transformational investments to Minnesota’s schools and students. We're prioritizing mental health with investments that ensure every school has a school counselor, social worker, nurse, so students can get the help they need when they need it. The READ Act is included in the budget and allocates $90 million into literacy programming, so our students can catch up on their reading skills. House DFLers are also helping close funding gaps in Special Education and English Language learning so our Robbinsdale, Wayzata, and Osseo School Districts can use those funds to help our students succeed and thrive. I was honored to vote in support of this bill.
Gun Violence Prevention Legislation Signed into Law
After decades of advocacy from Minnesotans, our state will now have new laws on the books to help prevent senseless tragedy via gun violence. Governor Walz has signed into state statute universal background checks and red flag laws that allow law enforcement to intervene when someone is at high risk of injuring themselves or others with a firearm.
Both of these provisions are in use in other states around the country under both Republican and Democratic governments. Statistics show these other states have lower rates of suicide and domestic violence homicide, among other results. The criminal background checks will go into effect August 1, 2023 and red flags are effective January 1, 2024, and apply to firearm permit background checks made on or after that date.
Lawns to Legumes Applications are Open
Applications are now open and being accepted through June 30 of this year for Lawns to Legumes grants, which reimburses Minnesota residents up to $350 for establishing new pollinator habitat in their yards. The aim is to increase habitat for at-risk pollinators in residential settings. You can find more information, including how to apply, here.
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