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State Representative JoAnn Ward

231 State Office BuildingState Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
651-296-7807

For more information contact: DJ Danielson 651-296-8879

Posted: Jan 19 2016 1:22PM
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E-Update

Legislative Update - January 19, 2016


Dear Neighbors,
 
Last week I had the opportunity to speak with my grandson Max’s fifth grade class as part of their unit on government. I was very impressed with the way the students listened and engaged, and they were very articulate and interested in the topic.
 
While we discussed the three branches of government and reviewed the federal, local, and state levels of government, the students were keenly interested in why I ran for the legislature, and the things I enjoy about public service. This led to a fascinating discussion about what the children might want to do to make the world a better place.
 
I just got back from Boise where, along with some of my colleagues of both parties, we facilitated a workshop for all members of the Idaho Legislature about civil discourse. It was a great opportunity to share my knowledge and experience in working to improve bipartisanship, foster trust, and eliminate harmful rhetoric in here Minnesota.
 
REAL ID
 
As you may have heard, the federal Department of Homeland Security has set January 18, 2018 as the date when Minnesotans must have a REAL-ID compliant driver’s license to board a commercial aircraft. Previously, it appeared sometime in 2016 DHS would begin enforcing this law, which requires higher security requirements than current Minnesota drivers licenses feature in order to board airplanes, enter certain federal buildings, nuclear facilities and military bases.
 
Minnesota Department of Public Safety officials have been legally barred from proceeding toward compliance with this federal law due to a bill passed in 2009. Gov. Mark Dayton has sought a special session to solve this problem, and, regardless of the extended deadline, would still like to hold one. A working group on this issue – in addition to one discussing a potential extension of unemployment benefits for steelworkers on the Iron Range, and one seeking solutions solving our state’s racial disparities – has been meeting in preparation for a possible special session.
 
For more information on REAL ID and how it impacts Minnesota, please check out this brief prepared by the nonpartisan House Research Department.
 
Tobacco treatment free for Minnesotans on Medical Assistance starting 2016
 
Starting January 1 of this year, Minnesotans on Medical Assistance or MinnesotaCare can receive free assistance as they work to quit smoking. Copays will be waived for those receiving services such as tobacco treatment counseling as well as smoking cessation medications.
 
This change comes as a result of legislation passed in 2015. With smoking still the leading cause of preventable death and disease in Minnesota, this is a great step to help citizens improve their health, and will prove cost effective to the state.
 
If you or someone you know might benefit from this change, please visit QUITPLAN’s website.
 
AARP designates Minnesota as best state for retirees
 
Earlier this month, AARP ranked Minnesota as the number one state in the nation for retirement. They noted our strengths which include the amount of senior housing units available (125 per 1,000 older adults), living affordability, support for family caregivers, and the quality of life and care available.
 
While we should be proud of this ranking, with the population of retired Minnesotans set to explode in the near future, we must take additional steps to ensure we are fully equipped to provide quality services such as health care, transportation, and housing for years to come.
 
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions, or if I can ever be of assistance.
 
Sincerely,
 
JoAnn Ward

Minnesota House of Representatives  ·   100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Saint Paul, MN   55155   ·   Webmaster@house.mn