Job Growth Bill, Agriculture, and Environment
On Wednesday, April 27th, we debated the Agriculture, Environment, and Job Growth Omnibus on the House floor.
The Job Growth provisions in this bill included a $5 million allocation for workforce housing, $500,000 in childcare grants to address shortages in rural areas, and $40 million in broadband funding. This brings the total to approximately $47 million allocated this session to broadband, which will be combined with federal funds to comprise a historic investment in our state’s broadband infrastructure.
The Agriculture provisions in this bill focus heavily on animal disease research and prevention. Funding includes $3.332 million to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture to improve outbreak-related emergency procedures, in addition to $1.8 million allocated to the University of Minnesota to develop software that can track and predict outbreaks.
Environmental provisions include requiring new motorboats with separate compartments to have carbon monoxide detectors. There is also an $8.6 million allocation for state parks, trails, and forestry work.
The Job Growth, Agriculture, and Environment Omnibus passed the House with a vote of 72/54.
Health and Human Services, State Government Finance, and Public Safety
Into the early hours of Friday, April 29th, the House debated the Health and Human Services, State Government Finance, and Public Safety Omnibus.
The HHS section included a provision for a third-party audit of the MNSure exchange to assess how many people currently enrolled in MinnesotaCare or Medical Assistance actually meet eligibility requirements for these services. This measure builds on recent finding from the Legislative Auditor, which found huge amounts of tax payer dollars are being wasted on these services for people who have been enrolled in these programs by mistake. The money saved by the audit findings will go to an account dedicated to giving a pay raise to long-term care providers. An amendment that was added during the debate would require that abortion clinics in Minnesota meet the same requirements that other surgical centers need to adhere. As of now, abortion clinics are some of the only healthcare centers that remain largely unregulated in terms of health and safety standards.
Rural Access to Dental Care
One of the bills that I authored also passed in the HHS portion of the omnibus bill. The bill, HF0204, would eliminate the requirement that providers accepting state employee health insurance have a minimum of 10% of patients on Medical Assistance, making dental care for state employees more accessible in rural areas. Here is the bill page linking to the language included in the HHS omnibus: http://wdoc.house.leg.state.mn.us/leg/LS89/HF0204.0.pdf
State Government Finance provision highlights include funding for the Eagles Healing Nest veterans home, and additional money for the State Soldiers Assistance Fund. There is also a measure that would officially ban all non-essential travel by state employees, which is a ridiculous waste of tax-payer dollars.
The Public Safety measures include an increase in the fine for people who drive around a school bus when its stop sign is extended, endangering children. In addition, there is are increased sentencing brackets for drivers driving without a valid license who cause injury or death in the event of a car accident.
The Health and Human Services, State Government Finance, and Public Safety Omnibus passed with a vote of 72-57.
I will continue to keep you updated as session progresses.