It is humbling to have received notice from the Board of Directors of the Minnesota Association of Community Health Centers that it unanimously voted to present me with that group's 2015 Legislator of the Year Award.
The board cites my efforts in the 2015 legislative session to support Minnesota's Community Health Centers, as well as the state’s Federally Qualified Health Centers and the 175,000 low-income individuals that rely on them for their primary care needs.
The board specifically recognized an increased to the CHC appropriation through a bill I authored (H.F. 576). In addition to that bill, I supported other successful measures such as re-instating the 20-percent co-payment for low-income seniors who use CHSs and rural health clinics, expanding the state's loan forgiveness program and addressing the lack of access to oral health services for low-income Minnesotans.
This is a great honor and I thank the board for its recognition. I am proud to be making a difference in ensuring people who need help the most receive it and look forward to doing more good things in the 2016 session.
It has been great seeing so many people out and about enjoying summertime events in District 29A the last handful of weeks. The season is starting to wind down, but Montrose Days is still on tap, Aug. 21-13. There is a full slate of events, capped off by a parade 1 p.m. that Sunday, the 23rd. Hope to see you there!
I was honored to speak during a recent pro-life gathering in Annandale. My message to attendees was to stay positive, stay focused and keep doing the honorable thing by fighting for life. This subject has become a big topic of conversation recently after horribly disturbing national news emerged regarding Planned Parenthood's tactics. The fact this issue is receiving more attention these days is a silver lining.
MILLE LACS LAKE ISSUES
Another big news item which has arisen at the state level pertains to the Mille Lacs Lake walleye fishery. The walleye season was closed on that lake at the start of this month after the harvest quota was reached early. A working group has been meeting at the Capitol to fully assess the situation and to formulate a plan of action. One thing missing from the meetings is a formal proposal being offered by the governor and his agency officials for the working group and others to consider.
The start of August brought with it a series of new laws which took effect. One of the most notable changes is a $1 increase in the minimum wage, bringing Minnesota to $9 per hour. This is the second of a three-step increase Minnesota majority enacted in 2014 legislative session. It will go up by another 50 cents in August of 2016, to $9.50, before being indexed to inflation starting in 2018.
Another new law increases penalties for repeat texting-while-driving offenders. The $50 fee for a citation rises to $225 for second and subsequent texting-while-driving convictions. It is good to see our state stepping up efforts to crack down on distracted driving, of which texting is a major component. Reports indicate 86,000 crashes in Minnesota during 2009-13 are attributed to distracted driving, 25 percent of all crashes in that period. It is illegal for drivers in our state to read, compose or send texts/emails and access the web on a wireless device – including at a stoplight/stop sign. It also is illegal for drivers under age 18 to use a cell phone at any time.
More information regarding these and a number of other new laws is available by clicking here.
CONGRATS TO THE BERNINGS
Congratulations to the Berning family for recently being named a Farm Family of the Year for 2015. Three families of Bernings run a fourth-generation operation, Green Waves Farm near St. Michael. The Bernings have been involved with Minnesota Dairy Herd Improvement Association since 1935 and use extensive record keeping and automated dashboards to monitor and improve the productivity of their herd. The Bernings also raise corn and alfalfa on about 500 acres for feed. Hats off to the Bernings for keeping the family farm going strong and for doing great work in advancing the dairy industry!
Please stay in touch as we continue making our way through the summer. Good luck to local students as they head back to school for another year. Fall sports seasons are ramping up and here's to wishing our athletes a healthy, successful season.