There are less than two weeks left in the 2019 legislative session. The House has wrapped up our work in assembling budget proposals, and now conference committees are meeting so the House and Senate can come to a compromise. I’m confident that we can work together and come to a conclusion before we adjourn May 20 and deliver results that truly strengthen opportunities for all Minnesotans. Here’s an update from the State Capitol.
Gov. Walz Signs Family Reunification Bill
This week, Gov. Tim Walz signed into law HF 554, my bill to allow parents, who had previously had their parental rights terminated for non-egregious harm, to directly seek reestablishment of these rights from the courts. Currently, only a county attorney is able to make this petition. Whenever we’re able to, we should keep families together and our children deserve to be protected, loved, and nurtured. When they can stay in their community with their parents, this gives them the best outlook in life. We know all too well that our child welfare system doesn’t seem to always have the best interest of the child in mind, and that’s why it’s important for us to keep working to improve it.
HF 554 restores the rights of parents whose parental rights were terminated for non-egregious harm, such as chemical dependency or mental illness for example and not for physical, sexual, or psychological abuse. Every child deserves a strong future and I thank Governor Walz for signing this important bill into law.
Health and Human Services
The Minnesota House has approved a Health and Human Services budget that prioritizes the health and wellbeing of Minnesotans. All Minnesotans deserve quality health care that they can afford, but too many people struggle to afford the care they need, can’t afford their insurance premiums, or are in fear of losing the coverage they have. Whether you purchase health insurance in the private market, receive coverage through an employer, or are enrolled in a public health plan, the DFL House Health and Human Services budget protects access to quality health care services. It also includes the first increase for the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) in 33 years. A fact sheet is available here.
In addition to protecting care for people with low incomes, expanding care for women, and reducing health disparities, the budget lowers costs through measures to hold insurance companies and Big Pharma accountable. This contrasts with the Senate Republicans’ proposal which continues handouts to insurance companies, puts the health care of 1.2 million Minnesotans at risk by not continuing funding for the Health Care Access Fund, guts child care assistance funding, and contains over $1 billion in cuts, including basic adult vision and dental care.
I’m honored to have been appointed to the House/Senate conference committee to work on a compromise Health and Human Services budget. While compromise will be necessary to reach a conclusion, I’ll never stop advocating for affordable, accessible health care and tools to help families to pull themselves out of poverty.
Investments in Education
Another major area of the state budget is E-12 Education, and the Minnesota House has approved a budget which invests in opportunities for all students. With increases in the per-pupil funding formula of three and two percent respectively the next two years, more funding for special education, strategies to recruit more teachers of color and more, our budget will help ensure all children in Minnesota can access an equitable, quality education. A fact sheet is available here.
This is another area in which the Senate Republicans fall far short. With their meager half-percent proposed increase each of the next two years, teachers would need to be laid off, class sizes would increase, and educational program opportunities would be decimated. To build a stronger state, our students depend on quality education for everyone. Minnesotans recognize this value, and I’m committed to upholding our responsibility to fully fund our public schools.
Please continue to contact me with your input and ideas. It’s an honor to be your voice at the Capitol.
Legislative Assistant: Alyssa Fritz, 651-296-2491