We've demonstrated this week that a divided state legislature, with a lot of discussion and compromise, can get things done to move the needle forward for Minnesotans. We agreed on a state budget, and passed measures to invest in higher education, stop the opioid epidemic, and prevent elder abuse.
I am working to finalize the State Government budget, and have the Senate Majority Leader's word that the Senate will finally approve the $6.6 million in Help America Vote Act (HAVA) funding given to Minnesota by the federal government to secure our elections from outside interference.
While we're still finalizing the details of some of our bills, we have a lot to be proud of.
Addressing Minnesota's opioid epidemic
The DFL-led House and the Republican-led Senate arrived at a bipartisan agreement on compromise legislation aimed at stopping Minnesota’s opioid crisis. Under the bill, opioid companies who've profited from the epidemic will provide funding for new and proven strategies to address opioid use disorders, while delivering funding to counties for the significant public safety resources they will need. For too long, families and communities have been waiting for the Legislature to take action. This compromise puts us on the path to prevent more heartbreaking tragedies by holding Big Pharma accountable.
Last night, we sent a higher education budget to the Governor that eases the financial burden on working families and students. It improves student health, safety, and mental health support, and provides for hunger-free campuses. There are currently 775,000 Minnesotans with student debt totaling $27.1 billion – Minnesotans from all backgrounds deserve a fair shot at earning a quality education, and that shouldn’t be limited to those at the top. We have work left to do to freeze tuition and make sure no Minnesotans are left out of the higher education system, but this is a good start.
Thank you to all the teachers and educators who rallied at the capitol for our students, asking for proper funding for our schools. Thanks to their advocacy, we have strong investments in our students in the K-12 Education Budget.
Preventing Elder Abuse
New protections for seniors and vulnerable adults earned final approval from the House and Senate Sunday night. A 2017 Star Tribune multi-part story on rampant assault, abuse, neglect and other crimes in Minnesota’s senior care facilities brought attention to the issue. The bill we passed will create requirements for assisted living facilities to protect older and vulnerable adults to ensure they receive the care they need in a dignified, safe living environment.
We will continue to iron out the details of the budget until the Governor calls us back for a special session to debate and pass our finalized budget agreement. As you have questions and thoughts on our final state budget, please don't hesitate to reach out!
Rep. Michael V. Nelson