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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: Gina Vega 651-296-5526

Posted: 2017-05-03
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Legislative Update

Legislative Update- May 3, 2017


Dear Neighbors,

The pace is picking up at the Legislature with less than three weeks until our required adjournment on May 22.  Joint budget “targets” or parameters were set on Friday and conference committees are wrapping up their work.  The Governor has clearly stated that as soon as the House and Senate put forward a detailed budget, in the form of completed conference committee reports, final negotiations will begin to work out the two sides’ differences.  In fact, Governor Dayton has provided legislative leaders with frequent communications this legislative session, sending 55 letters and 179 pages of input from state agency commissioners outlining his priorities.  At stake are education, transportation, public safety and other key bills that impact the daily quality of our lives.  Here’s a more in depth Capitol update:

Bonding

The bonding bill was released on Monday.  Last year, as you may recall, the House Majority introduced a bonding proposal approximately 30 minutes before our final adjournment that ultimately failed.  While I’m glad we’re seeing some improved time management, this year’s bonding bill excludes several of the last year’s compromised bonding projects such as: the St. Peter Security Hospital and U of M building upgrades to name a few.  The art of compromise takes time, thorough discussion, mutual understanding and respect; which is why it is unusual the House Majority would not work from the compromised bonding blueprint of last year.

A bonding bill needs a 3/5 supermajority vote for passage; I am hopeful the Legislature will work with the Governor to come up with a revised, balanced and substantial bill to invest in these needed infrastructure projects statewide.

Measles

This week on the House Floor, my colleagues made a motion to provide enhanced funding to the Minnesota Department of Health to address the current measles outbreak. The bill we were hoping to discuss would have funded an immunization grant program for specific geographic areas and populations experiencing (or at risk of) an outbreak of a vaccine-preventable disease. Unfortunately, the House did not move forward on the procedural motion.  

The Minnesota Department of Health is warning that measles is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus. It can lead to hospitalization and in rare cases death. Measles spreads through the air by coughing or sneezing. You can get measles by just being in the same room as someone who has measles.  At greatest risk are infants too young to be immunized.

Symptoms include a high fever, cough, runny nose and watery eyes, followed by a rash that typically spreads from head to the rest of the body. A person with measles can pass it to others from four days before their rash appears to four days after it appears.

For parents concerned about the cost of immunizations, the Minnesota Vaccines for Children Program provides free or low-cost vaccines for eligible children through age 18. More information is available at Can My Child Get Free or Low Cost Shots?

For more information on measles, updates on the outbreak and important contact info you can go to the Minnesota Department of Health website here. You can also find a Measles fact sheet translated other languages here.

Mental Health Awareness Month

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month.  So often we focus on our physical health, we forget about the importance of our mental wellness.  For years and still today, mental health treatment and care has been stigmatized.  We can overcome this challenge by bringing awareness to the issue without shame.  To download a mental health “toolkit” or learn more about unhealthy habits and behaviors, click here.

Groups at the Capitol

Even as the end of session is near, several advocacy groups are still coming to the Capitol to meet with legislators.  Various groups have visited including Habitat for Humanity, Outfront Minnesota, the Minnesota Zoo, Minnesota Street Rod Association, Minnesota Water Action and Wind Energy.

House Image

Minnesotans travel from all corners of the state to show their support for issues they are passionate about. Their dedication to making Minnesota the best possible state is inspiring.  I hope you will visit the Capitol with a group or with your family. 

Please keep in touch; your input is crucial in these last few weeks of session.  I appreciate hearing from you.

Sincerely,

JoAnn Ward

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