Greetings from St. Paul, where I am tending to business at the Capitol as we draw nearer to the 2016 session starting in March.
This week's schedule includes visits to Bethel University and the U of M. The Bethel stop was quite interesting and included information regarding the school's new two-year program for students with intellectual disabilities.
The Bethel University Inclusive Learning and Development (BUILD) program began last fall. This is the only program of its type at a four-year school in Minnesota. It does a great job of accommodating students who previously may not have had an opportunity to attend college. Just like any other students, members of this program have gone through an extensive application process, pay tuition and live in campus dorms. And, just as with traditional programs, the aim for BUILD is to help these students learn, gain skills, land good jobs, live independently – and continue a lifetime of learning.
Internships both on and off campus are conducted to supplement core courses such as independent living, social skills, finances, Bible classes and physical education. A BUILD program student served as our tour guide and she did a fine job of taking us behind the scenes.
This week's trip to the U of M will be related to capital investment (aka bonding) proposals. Even-numbered years are when the state does its biggest bonding bills to fund infrastructure projects throughout the state. Proposals at state colleges and universities often include repair and/or renovation work.
Congratulations to the people at Lake Region Healthcare for recently celebrating the opening of the new clinic in Fergus Falls. This is a state-of-the-art facility which will provide exceptional service for citizens in our area. Congratulations again to all those who made this happen.
A number of people have asked me about REAL ID recently, especially those wondering whether new federal standards may impact their domestic flight plans.
The good news is people can boarding domestic flights as usual. The federal Department of Homeland Security announced its new ID standards will not take effect for at least two years. Full implementation may be delayed until October of 2020.
The Legislature will continue working on a long-term resolution and a REAL ID working group already has been meeting in preparation for the 2016 session. The goal is to bring our state's ID cards into compliance with new federal standards without compromising personal data now or in the future. Look for more news on this subject in the weeks and months ahead but, for now, feel free to proceed as normal with any flight plans you may have in mind.